CAIRO — A general strike in its second day crippled the capital of Sudan on Thursday, and its leaders have vowed to continue until they drive President Jaafar Numeiri from office.
"The strike has hit absolutely everything: transport, communications, power, water, the works," said a Western businessman in touch with Khartoum despite a shutdown of commercial communications.
"There's been a lot of demonstrating and marching around today but no signs of violence" as of mid-afternoon, said the businessman, who has a private telex connection from London to his Khartoum office.
Telephone and official telex communication was cut off Wednesday, although it was not clear whether this was done by the government or because engineers walked out. The international airport closed Wednesday night.
The strike began Wednesday when 15,000 to 20,000 Sudanese demonstrated in the center of Khartoum to demand Numeiri's resignation. Hundreds of riot police dispersed them with tear gas and clubs, and arrested their leaders.
Doctors and other professional unions organized simultaneous marches to meet at the People's Palace, Numeiri's official residence, but police prevented it.
Numeiri, on a visit to the United States, asserted in an interview published Thursday in Saudi Arabia that the strike is a "transient matter" and he still will be president when he returns home.
The State Department said in Washington that there were no reports of injuries to Americans. It released no information on Numeiri's travel plans.
In three days of rioting last week, beginning the day before Numeiri left on his trip, the government said five people were killed.
The riots followed student-led protests against sharp increases in the prices of basic foods and other essential goods that Numeiri imposed under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, the United States and other creditors.
Doctors began their strike as the riots ended, at first to protest alleged police brutality against rioters and later to demand Numeiri's ouster.