Sudan protesters begin two-day strike to pressure military

Protesters in Sudan started a two-day general strike on Tuesday to pile pressure on the ruling army to hand over power to a civilian government.

The strike left hundreds of airline passengers stranded at Khartoum airport on Tuesday morning after opposition group Alliance for Freedom and Change requested Sudanese pilots to participate.

Leaders of the umbrella protest movement and army generals who seized power after ousting President Omar al-Bashir last month, have so far failed to iron out differences over who should lead a new governing body - a civilian or soldier.

"The response to the call for a strike has been better than we expected," SiddiqFarukh, a leader of the protest movement, told AFP news agency on Monday.

"The two-day strike aims to deliver a message to the whole world that the Sudanese people want a real change and they don't want the power to be with the military," he added.

The new governing body is expected to install a transitional civilian government, which in turn would prepare for the first post-al-Bashir elections after a three-year interim period ends.

The deputy head of the Transitional Military Council, Lieutenant General Mohamed HamdanDagalo, who goes by the nickname Hemeti, said on Monday that the council was ready to hand over power swiftly.

Hemeti accused the opposition of not being serious about sharing power and wanted to confine the military to a ceremonial role.

"By God, their slogans cheated us. I swear we were honest with them 100 percent," Hemeti said at a dinner with police.

"That's why, by God Almighty, we will not hand this country except to safe hands."

Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers were stranded at Khartoum airport as scores of employees at the facility went on strike. Many employees carried banners or wore badges that read "We are on strike".

Sudanese airlines Badr, Tarco and Nova suspended flights on Tuesday, although some international flights were still scheduled.

Passengers were also stranded at Khartoum's main bus terminal as hundreds of employees observed the strike.

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Author: Khartoum, Tuesday

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