On March 15, the vice president of the Sovereign Transitional Council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, visited Port Sudan, on the Red Sea, to attend a number of meetings organized with local government authorities in order to identify a solution for the port’s growing management problems.
Upon the general’s arrival in Port Sudan a massive protest was organized by the port’s workers, who oppose the privatization of the infrastructure through the signing of a contract with the UAE government.
A few days earlier, in fact, the interim foreign minister, Ali El Sadig, had announced the signing of an agreement with the government of Abu Dhabi for the development of a cooperation project concerning the port on the Red Sea, and the development of road and rail infrastructures.
Workers in the port industry of Port Sudan had contested the signing of the agreement, arguing that the United Arab Emirates has a strategy that is antagonistic to that of the Sudanese structures, which would thus be penalized by a privatization process in favor of Abu Dhabi.
In particular, the trade unions of the Sudanese port fear that the United Arab Emirates could secretly maneuver to make the infrastructures on the Red Sea uncompetitive compared to their own, causing their progressive closure.
For this reason, they started an intense protest at the arrival of General Dagalo in the city, leading to the intervention of police forces. The vice president, during a press conference, denied that the country has signed agreements with the United Arab Emirates for the privatization of the port, claiming to have visited Port Sudan to coordinate the revitalization efforts planned by the government in favor of the port.
The protest against General Dagalo’s visit, however, is also part of the growing divergence with the president of the Sovereign Council of Transition, General al-Burhan, matured in recent months as a result of what the military leadership believes to be an attempt by General Dagalo to build his own sphere of influence within the power system.
The recent visit of the vice president to Russia, and the contextual relaunch of the project to allow Moscow to open a naval base in the Red Sea, have in fact given impetus to an intense critical debate in Sudan, which sees the leaders of the armed forces and those of the militias positioning themselves on different and progressively conflicting positions.