Sudan’s highest-ranking general on Monday dissolved the government and announced that the army would lead the country after his forces arrested the acting prime minister and other officials, while thousands of Sudanese protested in the streets against the coup.
The seizure of power threatens to derail the long and unstable attempt to transition to democracy two years after protesters forced the departure of autocrat Omar al-Bashir. The move came just before the army was due to hand over government leadership to civilians next month. joint between the army and civilians.
Following the morning arrests of public officials, thousands of people protested in the streets of the capital Khartoum and its sister city Omdurman. Images shared online appeared to show protesters blocking streets and setting tires on fire while security forces used tear gas to disperse them.
People chanted “The people are stronger, stronger” and “Retreat is not an option!”, While smoke from burning tires covered the air. In addition, videos have been shared where large groups of people were seen crossing bridges over the Nile towards the center of the capital.
At least 12 protesters were injured in demonstrations, according to the Sudanese Committee of Doctors, which did not provide further details.
In the afternoon, the army chief, General Abdel-Fatá Burhan, announced on national television that he would dissolve the Sovereign Council, the military and civil transition body formed to lead the country since al-Bashir’s ouster. The general said that differences between political factions led the army to intervene.
Burhan declared a state of emergency and said the army will designate a technocratic government to lead the country towards elections, scheduled for July 2023. But he made it clear that the army will remain in charge when he said: “The Armed Forces will continue to make a transition. democratic until the leadership of the country is handed over to an elected civilian government. “
The Information Ministry, still loyal to the dissolved government, said the speech was an “announcement of a seizure of power by a military coup.”
The United States and the European Union expressed concern about the events in Sudan.
US special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, said Monday morning that he was “deeply alarmed” by the reports. Feltman had met over the weekend with Sudanese military and civilian leaders to try to resolve the growing differences between members of the interim government. The European Union Foreign Minister, Josep Borrel, tweeted that he was following events with “the utmost concern.”
Before dawn on Monday, the first reports of a military uprising began to emerge. By mid-morning the Information Ministry confirmed that the Prime Minister, Abdala Hamdok, had been arrested and transferred to an undisclosed location. Several prominent members of the government were also detained, according to the Ministry in a Facebook post.. His whereabouts were unknown.
Hamdok’s office indicated in a Facebook post that he and his wife were detained Monday morning as part of a “complete coup.”
Access to the internet was widely cut off and the state news broadcaster was broadcasting traditional patriotic music. At one point, the military stormed the offices of the state television station in Omdurman and detained several workers, according to the Information Ministry.
The tension between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders had been growing in recent weeks.
A failed coup attempt in September divided the country into two old factions, pitting the more conservative Islamists who want a military government against those who toppled Al-Bashir in mass protests. In recent days, both sides had taken to the streets in protests.