A Sudanese court has ruled that internet services cut during a military coup more than two weeks ago must be restored, a lawyer said, as anti-coup protesters continued a civil disobedience campaign.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from the capital Khartoum, said that internet services had still not returned by Tuesday afternoon.
“Those who are relying on internet from their phone data have not been able to access it since the shutdown during the early hours of October 25,” said Morgan.
She added that the Sudanese people consider the blocking of their ability to express themselves freely a serious infringement on their rights.
The day after the coup, army General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan blamed online media for “instigating sedition” but also promised that “the internet services will gradually return”.
“The ruling by Khartoum district court ordered internet services to be resumed immediately,” lawyer Abdelazim Hassan told the AFP news agency.
The case was brought by a group of lawyers and the Sudanese consumers’ protection society, he said, adding that the court had also ruled services should run during a possible appeals process.
Online access in Sudan has largely been blocked since October 25, the day of a widely condemned military coup, and phone lines have also been intermittently disrupted.
Continuing strikes, civil disobedience
The development comes after a prominent pro-democracy group in Sudan, which was instrumental in the protests that toppled former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, asked demonstrators in several cities to join a call for two days of civil disobedience and a strike campaign against last month’s military takeover.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) called for strikes and civil disobedience on Sunday and Monday under the slogan of “No negotiations, no compromise, no power-sharing”, and promised to continue protesting until a civilian government is established to lead the transition towards full civilian rule.
The call by the umbrella group SPA comes ahead of a million-man march planned by anti-coup activists in the capital Khartoum on Saturday to protest the military coup against the military-civilian transitional government.
Nationwide anti-coup protests have taken place since October 25, when the Sudanese military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, seized power, dissolving the transitional administration and arresting dozens of government officials and politicians.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, al-Burhan said he was committed to handing over power to a civilian government, promising not to participate in any government that comes after the transitional period. But the SPA, an umbrella association of trade unions, has called for a fully civilian government, saying Burhan’s words can not be trusted.
At least 14 demonstrators have been killed and about 300 wounded in a military crackdown, according to the independent Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors. Al-Burhan has, however, denied that the army was responsible for the deaths of protesters.
The military seizure saw armed forces detain Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok before General al-Burhan dissolved the ruling council and declared a state of emergency.
The move came after weeks of tensions between military and civilian figures who have shared power in Sudan since the overthrow of its longtime leader Omar al-Bashir two years ago.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that Washington and Cairo have had “a shared interest” in getting Sudan’s democratic transition back on track. Blinken’s comments were made during the US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue.
“The military takeover that began on October 25 has been dangerously destabilising,” Blinken said. “Restoration of the civilian-led transitional government is the only path to facilitating the aspirations of the Sudanese people, who have demonstrated remarkable bravery in repeatedly coming out in demand for democracy,” he added.
On Sunday, hundreds of anti-coup protesters rallied in Khartoum, as well as in its twin city of Omdurman, Wad Madani to the south, and the northern city of Atbara, to ramp up the pressure against the military amid the continuing political crisis.
Sudanese security forces detained dozens of protesters and fired tear gas at several anti-coup rallies.