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Military coup in Sudan as army arrests prime minister and key members of government



Sudan’s prime minister, members of the country’s cabinet and several leading political figures have been arrested by soldiers in an apparent military coup, as the armed forces fanned out across Khartoum and the internet and phone lines were disrupted.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the capital and its twin city of Omdurman to protest the apparent military takeover. Footage shared online heavily armed Sudanese army and paramilitary forces fan out across the city restricting civilian movements and firing tear gas one protesters carrying national flags who burned tyres.

The information ministry said on Facebook that rallies were shot at as they gathered near the headquarters of the defence ministry in the capital. The Sudanese doctors committee reported that at least 12 had been injured in the violence. PM Abdalla Hamdok’s office said in an earlier statement that he and his wife were detained early Monday as part of what the office descirbed as a “complete coup”.

Faisal Mohamed Salih, a former minister and an adviser to the prime minister, has also been arrested along with the ruling sovereign council member Mohamed al-Faki Soleiman.

The country’s information ministry said that the whereabouts of the detained figures are unknown and added that the prime minister was being pressured by the military to give a public statement in support of the coup.

A former senior Sudanese diplomat in the US and civil society figures inside the country told The Independent in total as many as 300 people including advisors and political party chiefs ,were among those believed to be detained.

A list of the non-governmental figures who the military wanted to detain had apparently been released days before the sweep of arrests.

“We heard 300 have been arrested but we do not have a complete list of names. And so hundreds of people are protesting against the decision. We are worried that another massacre will happen,” said Dr Samia al-Nagar, a prominent civil society activist in Khartoum describing the situation on the streets.

“It is clear this is happening because the miltary, that controls a lot of the economy, do not want to hand over the control of the country to civilians.”

However a former senior Sudanese diplomat, who is well connected in Khartoum defended the military actions saying that the decision was made because the civilian wing of government had “dragged their feet” on new elections and had instead repeatedly blamed the army.

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“Sudan is not the US or Britain you cannot insult the army. The country is a big mess and the situation is threatening national security . The army has stepped in to stop the feud between different small political parties, to stop the chaos,” the former diplomat said.

“The govenrment kept dragging its feet about elections and extending the transitional period. I expect elections to be announced,” the diplomat added. A possible military takeover would be a major setback for Sudan, which has been grappling with a transition to democracy since long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir was overthrown following mass protests in 2019.

A coup was also attempted in September, amid rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders who have been governing in a power-sharing agreement since Bashir was toppled. Earlier this month protests were staged by opponents of Sudan’s transition to democracy, demanding the army take over the country.

The development also came after a meeting between the US’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman and Sudanese military and civilian leaders on Saturday and Sunday in efforts to resolve the dispute.

Issuing a statement, Mr Feltman said that “the US is deeply alarmed at reports of a military take-over of the transitional government”.

“This would contravene the Constitutional Declaration and the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people and is utterly unacceptable,” he added.

This echoed a statement by the European Union which joined the US in expressing “utmost concern” and called on the “stakeholders and regional partners to put back on track the transition process”.

The Arab League urged for immediate “dialogue’”. The United Nations Mission to Sudan also issued an emphatic rebuke of what it called an ongoing coup and attempts to undermine the northeast African nation’s fragile democratic transition.

The mission called on Sudan’s security forces “to immediately release those who have been unlawfully detained or placed under house arrest” and urged all parties to “exercise utmost restraint.” The Sudanese Professionals Association, a pro-democracy group, has meanwhile called for a general strike in response to what it described as an unfolding “military coup”.

“We urge the masses to go out on the streets and occupy them, close all roads with barricades, stage a general labour strike, and not to cooperate with putschists and use civil disobedience to confront them,” the group said in a statement.

Khartoum’s main airport has also been shut and international flights suspended, reported the Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV channel.

Apart from Mr Salih and Mr Soleiman, industry minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh and information minister Hamza Baloul have also been detained. Ayman Khalid, governor of the state containing the capital Khartoum, was also arrested.

A possible military takeover would be a major setback for Sudan, which has been grappling with a transition to democracy since long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir was overthrown following mass protests in 2019.

A coup was also attempted in September, amid rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders who have been governing in a power-sharing agreement since Bashir was toppled. Earlier this month protests were staged by opponents of Sudan’s transition to democracy, demanding the army take over the country.

The development also came after a meeting between the US’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman and Sudanese military and civilian leaders on Saturday and Sunday in efforts to resolve the dispute.

Meanwhile, NetBlocks, an internet monitoring organisation, said in a statement that there has been “significant disruption to internet services” in the country, “affecting cellular and some fixed-line connectivity on multiple providers”.

“The disruption is likely to limit the free flow of information online and news coverage of incidents on the ground,” it added.



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