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East Sudan protests snarl trade, deepen economic woes

This file photo taken on October 9, 2021, shows an elevated view of the shipping port of Port Sudan along the Red Sea in the country's northeast.   -  
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ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP or licensors


Hundreds of truck drivers in Sudan have continued their month-long strike blocking access to the main sea entry point.

The demonstrations began when key eastern tribes opposing the transitional government in Khartoum blocked roads and stopped shipments at the Red Seaport.

They are calling for the cancellation of parts of an October 2020 peace deal signed between the government and rebel groups.

"This checkpoint has been here since the seventeenth of last month (September), and we only allow small cars loaded with materials destined for the eastern region. This checkpoint will not be removed until our demands are met," said Awli Mussa Awli, a protester from eastern Sudan.

"I have been stuck here for 23 days exactly, I am not going to talk for myself, but rather for the general public. The majority of these drivers have been suspended for twenty-three days, and they either work for companies or for their own trade. If you ask them, eighty percent do not have enough money to eat or feed their children," said Mostafa Abdelqader , a truck driver.

Four weeks since the crisis erupted in mid-September, basic supplies to the rest of the impoverished northeastern African nation have been delayed, triggering a fresh wave of shortages nationwide.

"The approximate daily income of the container terminal is equivalent to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the (road closure) period took longer than we expected. We are facing daily losses, the longer the period (of road closure) gets, the bigger the losses," said Ahmed Mahgoub, the head of the southern terminal of Port Sudan.

Sudan has also been gripped by a bitter and deepening political divide among key factions steering the transition under an August 2019 power-sharing deal.

On Friday, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok described it as the "worst and most dangerous" chapter facing the transition.

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