Sudan’s army seized power in a coup, arrested leading civilian politicians, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and declared a state of emergency when thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Khartoum in opposition.
Sudan’s Medical Committee said Monday night that three protesters were killed and 80 people injured after security forces fired at the protesters. As night fell in Khartoum, witnesses described gangs of young men armed with sticks allegedly beating anyone in the streets.
Sudan has been nervous since a failed coup plot last month sparked recriminations among military and civilian groups that have been sharing power since the overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir two years ago.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who headed Sudan’s “sovereign council” for the distribution of power, justified the seizure of power and the dissolution of the country’s transitional government by saying that infighting between the military and civilian parties had threatened the stability of the country. The military was supposed to have passed the leadership of the joint sovereign council to a civilian figure in the next few months.
“The armed forces will continue to complete the democratic transition until the transfer of the country’s leadership to an elected civilian government,” Burhan said in a statement, adding that the country’s constitution will be rewritten and a new legislative body will be formed.
Much of the internet and the mobile phone network were cut off immediately after the coup. As protesters blocked streets and set tires on fire in the capital and its sister city, Omdurman, security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters who chanted: “The people are stronger, stronger!” withdrawal is not an option! “
However, video shared on social media showed people fleeing the sound of gunfire and a man being treated for what appeared to be a gunshot wound.
Members of a disparate alliance that includes warlords, military, militia leaders and former Bashir loyalists have been calling for the restoration of military rule, while several cabinet ministers last week participated in large protests in Khartoum and other cities against the prospect. .
Hamdok, who was detained overnight, was reportedly taken to an undisclosed location after refusing to issue a statement in support of the coup, said the Information Ministry, which was apparently still under the control of his supporters.
When the US embassy in Khartoum advised US citizens to take refuge there, the coup drew widespread international condemnation, including from the US, UK, EU and UN.
The protesters blocked the roads with barricades and crowds of burning tires, chanted the word “civil,” which means civil government, and accused Burhan of being in the pocket of the country’s Islamists.
As news of the arrests and coup spread, large numbers of protesters gathered outside the military headquarters, where shots and injuries were reported.
Among the crowd converging in the center of Khartoum was Ahmed Osman, who claimed to be a relative of one of the detained ministers.
“I have been on the street since 2 in the morning when I learned of the disappearance of the minister. We don’t know where they took him. It has always been a target of Islamists, ”said the young man, who had wrapped himself in the Sudanese flag. “It is our country, right? We have to reject what is happening ”.
Some, however, welcomed the return of protesters to the streets after nearly three years in which Sudan’s democratic transition has struggled, including Walaa Salah, a political activist. “I think it is a good time for people to return to the revolutionary path and start again.”
The United States, which has been mediating in Sudan, condemned the arrests and threatened to withhold assistance, and internal opponents of the armed forces called for nationwide protests and a general strike.
Witnesses from Khartoum described army security forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces stationed in the streets.
Sudan has experienced several coups since gaining independence from Great Britain and Egypt in 1956. Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1989 that removed the country’s last elected government.
Since street protests toppled Bashir, a political transition has helped Sudan emerge from international isolation under his rule of nearly three decades. Elections would be held in late 2023.
Transitional authorities, however, have struggled to advance issues including whether to hand Bashir over to the international criminal court, where he is wanted for war crimes.
Jeffrey Feltman, the United States special envoy for the Horn of Africa, met with military and civilian leaders over the weekend in an attempt at mediation. He said Monday that Washington was “deeply alarmed by reports of a military takeover by the transitional government.”
EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell said the bloc expressed “utmost concern” about the events.
Sudan’s main pro-democracy political group, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), said that at least five senior government officials had been detained and called on people to take to the streets.
“We urge the masses to take to the streets and occupy them, close all roads with barricades, hold a general workers’ strike, and not cooperate with the coup plotters and use civil disobedience to confront them,” the group said in a statement on Facebook. .
The Umma party, the largest in the country, also called street protests.
Images on social media showed Industry Minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh being taken from his home under cover of darkness.
Ayman Khalid, the governor of the state that contains the capital, was also arrested, according to his office’s Facebook page.
Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism