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Sudan’s Sovereign Council seeks to ban vulnerable women’s support group

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Multipurpose Women's Cooperative Union leadership (SUNA Photo)
June 4, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The Transitional Sovereignty Council prevented the head of the Multipurpose Women’s Cooperative Union, Awadiah Mahmoud Koko from speaking on behalf of the group after criticizing the government authorities for failing to provide pledged aid to women affected by the coronavirus lockdown.

On March 21, the Coronavirus Emergencies Committee and the Ministry of Social Welfare pledged assistance to food street women sellers under the umbrella of the Women’s Cooperative Union as they are part of vulnerable groups affected by the social distancing measures imposed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

However, the latter issued a statement last Monday in which the Union said that the authorities had not fulfilled their pledge stressing that much of its membership members were living in poor conditions.

"Aisha Musa summoned me on Tuesday and told me not to speak on behalf of the union because it was dissolved by the former regime dismantling committee."

For its part, Musa confirmed to the Sudan Tribune that she had an informal meeting with the President of the Multipurpose Women’s Cooperative Union, adding that the latter had asked for help.

However, she refused to speak about the matters discussed in the meeting, claiming that she had to consult with her aides.

The dismantling committee, in a letter issued on 18 March seen by Sudan Tribune, states that the Women Cooperative was not concerned with the decision to dissolve the unions established during the former regime.

Support from the Ministry of Social Development

Koko further said that the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Mohamed al-Shabek, who attended the meeting with Musa, on Wednesday handed her group 250 cash vouchers, each of which was fed with an amount of 3 thousand Sudanese pounds, for distribution to women affected by the health embargo.

He pledged to hand over another 500 vouchers next Tuesday, feeding him for 3,000 pounds as well. These are social support cards implemented by the state.

The women’s union aims to support women affected by war and social conditions and also to facilitate the administrative procedures allowing them to work as food and beverage vendors, it also encompasses 13 cooperatives scattered in Khartoum state poor neighbourhoods.

SIHA dismayed

Hala al-Karib, Regional Director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) described what happened to the Women’s Cooperative as a "shock" considering it as a demonstration of the failure of the test of democracy and the apparent breakdown of the Sovereign Council.

Also, she accused other circles of seeking to control the Union and using it to serve their political agenda, noting that these components attempt to punish the women’s union after statements by its leaders denouncing the government’s failure to provide support to women affected by the health embargo.

"The union handed over to the government lists of 13,000 affected-women but they did not get any assistance for weeks, so they had to go out and talk publicly about the lack of support," stressed al-Karib.

SIHA regional director has further regretted the way the government dealt with this active female group, which "should have received all respect after their strong contribution to achieving (regime) change and resistance to the oppression of the former regime for many years".

(ST)

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