Sudan’s military seized power on Monday, dissolving the transitional government hours after the prime minister was arrested. Thousands took to the streets to protest the coup, which threatens the country’s unsteady progress towards democracy.
According to the Sudan Doctors Committee, security forces opened fire on some of the crowd and three protesters were killed, in which 80 people were injured.
The takeover comes more than two years after protesters forced the ouster of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir and handed over the country to civilians just weeks before the military was handed over the leadership of that council.
Following the early morning arrests of Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok and other senior officials, thousands took to the streets of the capital Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman. They blocked roads and set tires on fire as security forces used tear gas to disperse them.
As plumes of smoke filled the air, protesters could be heard saying, “People are strong, strong!” and “Retreat is not an option!” Videos on social media showed large crowds crossing bridges on the Nile in the center of the capital, while the US embassy warned that troops were closing off parts of the city.
“We call on the military to immediately stop the violence, release the detained officers and ensure the safety of Sudanese citizens,” the embassy said, urging a return to the civilian-led government.
Pro-democracy activist Dura Gambo said paramilitary forces chased protesters from some areas of Khartoum. He said sporadic gunshots could be heard in many parts of the capital.
Records obtained from a hospital in Khartoum The Associated Press Some people showed up admitted with gunshot wounds.
In the afternoon, the army chief, General Abdel-Fatah Burhan, announced on national TV that he was dissolving the government and the Sovereign Council, a joint military and civilian body created soon after al-Bashir’s ouster to run the country. Was.
Burhan said the tussle between political factions prompted the army to intervene. Tensions have been rising for weeks over the pace and course of transition to democracy in Sudan, a nation in Africa linked by language and culture to the Arab world.
The general declared a state of emergency and said the military would appoint a technical government to lead the country in elections scheduled for July 2023. But he made it clear that the army would remain in charge.
“The armed forces will continue to accomplish democratic transition until the country’s leadership is handed over to a civilian, elected government,” he said. He said the country’s constitution would be rewritten and a legislative body would be formed with the participation of “young men and women who made this revolution”.
The Information Ministry, which is still loyal to the dissolved government, called his speech a “declaration of the seizure of power by a military coup”.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the United States is “deeply concerned by reports of a military takeover” and called for the immediate release of the prime minister and other officials.
“Today’s action is contrary to the will of the Sudanese people and their aspirations for peace, freedom and justice,” Jean-Pierre said.
The UN political mission in Sudan called the detention of government officials “unacceptable” and called for the African Union to free them. EU foreign affairs chief Josef Borrell tweeted that he was following the events with “extreme concern”.
Since al-Bashir, who remains in prison, was forced from power, Sudan has gradually worked to rid itself of international pariah status under autocracy. The country was removed from the United States’ pro-state terrorist list in 2020, opening the door to badly needed foreign loans and investment.
But Sudan’s economy is grappling with the setbacks of several economic reforms called for by international lending institutions. US Sen. Chris Koons, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and a close aide of President Joe Biden, warned in a tweet that the US could cut aid to Sudan if PM Hamdok and the authority of a full transitional government are not restored. “
In recent weeks, there have been concerns that the military was planning a takeover, and in fact there was a failed coup attempt in September. Tensions only grew from there, as the country fragmented along old lines, with more conservative Islamists wanting a military government that would stand up against those who toppled al-Bashir in protest. In recent days, both the camps have taken to the street in demonstrations.
Amid the standoff, generals have called for the dissolution of Hamdok’s transitional government – and Burhan, who heads the ruling sovereign council, has often said the military will hand power to only an elected government, a sign There are plans to hand over the leadership of the body to a civilian in November that generals may not stick to. The council is the final decision maker, although the Hamdok government is tasked with running the day-to-day affairs of Sudan.
As part of efforts to resolve the crisis, US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, met with Sudanese officials over the weekend, and a senior Sudanese military official said he had tried his best to stick to the generals. Tried unsuccessfully during the trip. agreed plan.
The arrests began hours later, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
In recent weeks, the military has been bolstered in its dispute with civilian leaders backed by tribal protesters who blocked the country’s main Red Sea port for weeks. Two of the most senior military officials, Burhan and his deputy general Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also have close ties with Egypt and the wealthy Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The first reports of a possible military takeover emerged before dawn, and the information ministry later confirmed that Hamdok and several senior government figures had been arrested and their whereabouts unknown. Internet access was widely disrupted and the country’s state news channel played patriotic traditional music.
Hamdok’s office condemned the detainees Facebook as a “complete coup”. He said his wife has also been arrested.
Sudan has faced other coups since gaining independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956. Al-Bashir came to power in 1989 in a similar takeover that removed the country’s last elected government.
According to a senior military official and another official, those detained on Monday included senior government figures and political leaders, including the Minister of Information and Industry, a media adviser to Hamdok and the state governor, including the capital. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not Authorized To share information with the media.
As news of the arrest spread, the country’s main pro-democracy group and two political parties called on Sudanese people to take to the streets.
The Communist Party called on activists to protest what Burhan described as a “complete military coup”.