Sudanese Mainers cut off from loved ones back home as military seizes power

Aymen Korika outside his home in Westbrook, Maine. Korika says he’s had only minimal contact with his father, who is still in Sudan, because the military has cut off most communication networks. (Ari Snider/Maine Public)

As a military coup unfolds in Sudan, some Sudanese immigrants in Maine said they are concerned about the safety of their loved ones, and about the future of democracy in their home country.

Some are calling for greater diplomatic intervention – while others take a measure of hope in the pro-democracy movement in Sudan.

Sudan’s military had been sharing power with a civilian government after a pro-democracy revolution two years ago.

But in late October, the military abandoned the power-sharing agreement and arrested the civilian Prime Minister, taking full control of the government.

The military has also clamped down on communication networks, which has cut off many Sudanese Mainers from friends and relatives still in the country.

“Internet has been really awful. We don’t know what’s happening, we don’t know how our families are doing,” said Ekhlas Ahmed, a Sudanese refugee and peace activist who now lives Portland.

Ahmed said the coup did not come as a surprise for her, given the country’s long struggle to achieve peace and democratic rule.

Meanwhile, Westbrook resident and community leader Aymen Korika said he would like to see the U.S. and other nations use diplomatic channels to steer Sudan back into its transition toward democracy.

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