Sudan protesters blockade roads to key Red Sea port
Sudanese protesters on Monday blocked main roads leading to the crucial Red Sea port to protest a 2020 peace deal, demanding parts relating to their eastern region be scrapped.
In October 2020, several rebel groups signed a landmark accord with a military-civilian transition government which came to power shortly after the April 2019 ouster of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
But Sudan's eastern Beja people have criticised parts of the fragile peace deal, saying it does not represent them.
Since last week, hundreds of Sudanese protesters have staged a sit-in demanding the dismissal of the Red Sea state governor, accusing him of supporting the 2020 peace deal.
"The national road is blocked," an alliance of several Beja tribes said in a statement.
Protest leader Abdalla Obshar told AFP that security forces have sought to break up the sit-in Port Sudan.
"We will not leave," he vowed.
In September last year, protesters from eastern communities had led similar demonstrations against the same agreement.
That blockade worsened Sudan's already struggling economy by exacerbating fuel and wheat shortages, heaping pressure on the transitional government of then-prime minister Abdalla Hamdok.
The following month, in October 2021, Sudan's fragile transition to civilian rule was upended by a military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
Port Sudan, the country's main seaport and vital trade hub, was reopened in November.
In December, Sudan's sovereign council suspended parts of the 2020 peace deal relating to the east pending discussions, but protesters in Port Sudan want the deal abolished.
"Our demands have not been met," Abdalla Obshar said. "We wanted to scrap the parts about the east completely, and that the central government engages with us in fresh negotiations".
Sudan has been reeling from deepening unrest, near-weekly protests, and a tumbling economy since last year's coup, which sparked wide international condemnation and cuts of crucial aid.
The United Nations, along with the African Union and regional IGAD bloc, have been pushing for Sudanese-led talks to solve the impasse.
Sudan's mainstream civilian bloc, which was ousted in the coup, rejected to take part of direct talks with the military under the UN-AU-IGAD process.