Global lens

Everything we know so far about the Sudan military coup

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other leaders detained in apparent power grab

Sudan’s prime minister has been arrested alongside other civilian members of his transitional government in an attempted military coup.

“Joint military forces” detained members of the sovereign council and the government this morning and took them to an undisclosed location, the country’s Information Ministry said. 

“There was no immediate comment from the military,” Reuters reported. Sudanese state television continued to broadcast as normal, but “internet and mobile phone signal outages have been reported”, said Sky News

The country’s main pro-democracy political group, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), has called on “the masses to go out on the streets and occupy them, close all roads with barricades [and] stage a general labour strike”. Do not “cooperate with the putschists and use civil disobedience to confront them”, the SPA, an umbrella group of trade unions, added in a Facebook post.

‘Bitter recriminations’

As news spread about the arrest of PM Abdalla Hamdok, “thousands took to the streets of Khartoum and Omdurman, with video appearing to show protesters blocking streets and setting tyres on fire as security forces used tear gas”, said Sky News.

Footage also appeared to show “soldiers standing by as protesters passed them and marched down the street”, added Reuters, and there were reports of “injuries in clashes in front of army headquarters”.

According to witnesses, “joint forces from the military and from the powerful, paramilitary Rapid Support Forces” have also been “stationed in the streets of Khartoum”, said the news agency.

And Khartoum International Airport has “been cordoned off by military forces”, said Deutsche Welle (DW). Tracking site Flightrader24 appeared to show that no planes were landing or taking off from Sudan’s largest airport. 

The northeast African nation “has been on edge” since a failed coup attempt last month “unleashed bitter recriminations between military and civilian groups who are meant to be sharing power”, The Guardian said.

The failed plot pitted more conservative Islamists who want a military government against those who in 2019 removed autocratic leader and alleged war criminal Omar al-Bashir in mass protests. Recent days have seen both camps demonstrating on the streets.  

Following his arrest, PM Hamdok was moved to an undisclosed location after refusing to issue a statement supporting the coup, the Information Ministry said. Military forces holding him under house arrest were pressuring him to issue a supportive statement, the ministry added.

Family members told Al Jazeera that Industry Minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh and the governor of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, Ayman Khalid, had also been detained. “The men were taken from their homes before dawn,” the broadcaster added.

According to the Associated Press, other detained officials included Information Minister Hamza Baloul; Faisal Mohammed Saleh, a media adviser to the PM; and the spokesperson for Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, Mohammed al-Fiky Suliman.

Call for democracy

The EU has called for the restoration of civilian government. Robert Dolger, the director for Africa at the German Federal Foreign Office, tweeted: “We stand with the people of Sudan and their aspiration for freedom and democracy.”

The attempted coup was “utterly unacceptable”, said the US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman. German newspaper DW reported that Feltman met with “Sudanese military and civilian leaders” over the weekend to “find a resolution to the ongoing dispute”.

“The US is deeply alarmed at reports of a military take-over of the transitional government,” he said in comments tweeted this morning by the US Bureau of African Affairs. “This would contravene the Constitutional Declaration and the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people.”

“I am calling on security forces to immediately release all those unlawfully detained or put under house arrest,” added Volker Perthes, chief of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan.

The country is scheduled to hold democratic elections in 2023. Since the toppling of Bashir, Sudan has been governed by a transitional civilian-military administration, which would be replaced when a civilian government is elected.

But the main civilian block in the transitional government, the Forces for Freedom and Change, has “splintered into two opposing factions”, The Telegraph said. Tensions between the military and civilian elements have “long simmered”, with “powerful factions” in Sudan “pushing a return to military rule”.

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