The move has crushed hopes of a peaceful transition to power after the ouster of former president Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
Sudan was ruled by an uneasy coalition between military and civilian groups since 2019. But on Monday, the military effectively dissolved the power-sharing Sovereign Council and the Transitional Government, and temporarily took Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok into custody.
Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said the agreement with civilian members of the country’s transitional sovereign council “became a conflict” over the past two years, a “threat to peace and unity” in Sudan. Burhan also said that several articles of the Constitution have been suspended and state governors have been removed.
According to a source in Sudan’s prime minister’s office and a military source, PM Hamdok and his wife, as well as several government ministers and officials, were detained on Monday, and later returned to their residence on Tuesday.
It was unclear whether Hamdok and his wife were able to move freely after returning to their homes, or whether other government ministers and officials were also let go or are still detained.
However, key opposition leaders were also swept away in a new wave of arrests on Tuesday, including the younger brother of Sudan’s foreign minister, pro-democracy sources told CNN.
Who is Burhan?
Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, is behind the military takeover.
Over the next few weeks, Burhan was to hand over control of the council to a civilian leader. Instead, he dissolved the council, saying in a televised statement that he would hold elections in July 2023 and then submit to a “free and fair representative government”.
On Tuesday, Burhan said the military had presented options to the deposed civilian government to avoid a political deadlock, but they were rejected.
How did the current troubles begin?
When Bashir was ousted in a 2019 coup that ended his three-decade-long regime, Sudan’s military leadership formed the Transitional Military Council to oversee the transition to power.
But the pro-democracy movement strongly opposed the council, which called for civilian rule instead. After a week-long standoff, the two sides agreed to create a sovereign council that would govern “for the next three years or a little longer”.
Down With the deal struck in July 2019, the Military Council will be in charge of the country’s leadership for the first 21 months. A civil administration would then rule the council over the next 18 months.
But it has proved to be an unstable alliance. The triumphant mood that prevailed across the country since Bashir’s ouster soured, with tensions rising between the two sides as they fought to maintain control over the country’s future.
Did the coup come as a surprise?
Not completely. Hamdok’s aide Adam Hirika told CNN the premier was aware of the military’s plans and was under pressure to dissolve the government.
Hirika said that he visited Hamdok on Sunday evening where he discussed the current situation. He said that Hamdok had met Burhan.
On Monday, the information ministry said Hamdok was under pressure to issue a statement “in support of the acquisition”. Instead, he said, he called on pro-democracy protesters to take to the streets in peaceful protest.
Why is this happening?
In keeping with the original transitional agreement, tensions were rising after some politicians, including Hamdok, pressed for a full transition to civilian rule by 17 November.
In the weeks that followed, military leaders have been calling for a reform of the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition and the replacement of the cabinet. Civic leaders accused him of grabbing power.
How has the international community reacted?
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the coup and called for the release of the prime minister and other officials, he said in a tweet on Monday, adding that the United Nations will continue to “stand by” the people of Sudan.
At a press briefing, the White House said the Biden administration was “deeply concerned” by the unfolding events in Sudan, while the United Kingdom called the coup an “unacceptable betrayal of the Sudanese people”.
The EU has “strongly condemned” the coup and stressed “serious consequences” for EU engagement with Sudan, including its financial support, unless the situation is immediately reversed.
Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Maryam al-Sadiq called for further action from the international community. Al-Sadiq said she expects “genuine action” from the UN Security Council on Sudan’s military after the takeover. “Some of my accomplices were already in jail and we were not aware of their whereabouts,” he said.
What does this mean for US aid?
The United States had high hopes for Sudan’s transition to democracy and, in recent weeks, has attempted to prevent a possible military takeover.
The White House on Monday condemned the coup and withheld $700 million in emergency aid to Sudan aimed at supporting the democratic transition – vital aid for the country grappling with a growing economic crisis.
What do the protesters want?
Thousands of demonstrators protesting the coup took to the streets of the capital Khartoum on Monday, some raising the slogan: “We walk with worry in our hearts and worry is sleeping in people’s chests.” They gathered at many places.
The number of protesters killed in Sudan has now risen to 8 and more than 140 wounded as protests against a military takeover began on Monday, three sources from the Ministry of Health and the Sudan Central Doctors Committee, now the civilian component of the dissolved is associated with. Sovereign Council told CNN.
In the video going on social media, a crowd of people is seen moving towards the General Command of the Army. Amid reports of roads being closed in several parts of the city, some people could be seen removing the razor wire which was kept across the road.
The information ministry said on Facebook that supporters of civilian rule have also announced a strike in response to a program of civil disobedience and military takeover.
Where does this leave democratic change?
The military takeover threatened to derail Sudan’s path to democracy, just as the country had resumed after decades of autocratic rule, global isolation and crippling economic sanctions.
In a matter of weeks, the Sudanese people were ready to celebrate their first full civilian leadership in three decades. But now, the military has announced that it will rule on its own, and it is unclear whether it will fulfill its promise of free elections.
Burhan said on Tuesday that the transitional period would still focus on forming a civilian government and claimed the Sudanese military would not engage in politics. “We only want to fix the path of the transitional phase,” he said.
Where is Omar al-Bashir?
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010 on charges of genocide and war crimes related to Sudan’s military operation in Darfur between 2003 and 2008.
CNN’s Ivana Kottasova and Eliza Mackintosh wrote from London. CNN’s Yasir Abdullah, Karim Khaddar, Hamdi Alakhshali, Karim Al Damanhouri, Mustafa Salem, Jennifer Deaton, Nima Elbagir, Kara Fox and Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting.