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U.S. criticized for withholding $700 million in aid to Sudan

Sudanese nationals living in Lebanon chant slogans as they hold their national flag during a protest to condemn a military coup earlier this week   -  
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A spokesman for Sudan's main opposition coalition, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), on Friday criticized the U.S. decision to withhold 700 million dollars in aid to the country, saying Sudan should not have to be punished for what occurred in the previous regime under former President Omar al-Bashir.

The United States on Monday suspended 700 million U.S. dollars in economic aid to Sudan after the country's military forces arrested civilian leaders and officials.

The U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press briefing that the United States condemned the actions taken by Sudanese military forces that led to the arrest of Sudanese civilian government officials and other political leaders, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

"In light of these developments, the United States is pausing assistance from the 700 million U.S. dollars in emergency assistance appropriations of economic support funds for Sudan," he added.

The FFC spokesman Mubarak Ardol demanded, at a press briefing on Friday, that the country's military forces step down and return power to the civilian transitional government and also hit back at the U.S. decision to freeze aid to Sudan.

"With regards to the position of the U.S. government in stopping its aid of 700 million dollars, during the transition period, the United States was the only country that fined Sudan for more than 400 million dollars. They fined us more than 400 million dollars for crimes that we did not commit, but were committed by the previous regime. We cannot allow them to buy our political decision for 700 million dollars," said Ardol.

On Oct. 25, the Sudanese Army took measures ending the partnership between the military and civilian coalition ruling during the transitional period in Sudan.

Meanwhile, General Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan declared a state of emergency across the country and dissolved the sovereign council and government.

The Forces of Freedom and Change alliance accused Al-Burhan of carrying out a military coup.

Since the announcement of foiling a coup attempt on Sept. 21, the disagreements between the military and civilian partners in the transitional government have continued to escalate.///

The Sudanese army on Thursday moved to reopen some of the streets and bridges which had been blocked by demonstrators, with strict inspection measures in place.

The Arab market in central Khartoum has also been reopened, and many vendors have returned to their booths to resume business.

"The market was closed, and it was difficult to move around, but now since the morning I was able to come here with my car, the streets opened, and the market has opened. But over the past days, transportation was difficult, and we were waiting from morning to evening until the people could move through, and now, thank god, the market is good, the people are there. We went down to work and we will continue to work, and the country is safe and the bridges are open," said one local.

Following several days of turmoil, many in the city are still concerned about security and hope that stability can be returned.

"The demands of the people are to feel reassured, to feel goods are stable, and we want to live like other people," said another Khartoum resident.

Since a coup attempt last month, tensions between the military and civilian partners in the transitional government have continued to escalate, while the capital Khartoum has been witnessing street demonstrations rejecting the military intervention and demanding a civilian government.

At least eight were killed and 157 others injured during the dispersal of demonstrators in Khartoum on Monday, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors.