A military coup is reported in Sudan after several members of the transitional government and other civilian leaders were arrested. Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok is reportedly among the officials placed under house arrest. “They have been taken to an unidentified location,” the Ministry of Information said in a statement. The military has not yet commented on the developments, but pro-democracy groups have called for street protests.
The ministry said Prime Minister Hamdok was under pressure to support a coup, but was refusing to do so and urged people to continue peaceful protests to “defend the revolution”. The United States is “deeply concerned” by reports from Sudan, said Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman. Witnesses said that in the capital Khartoum, the internet was cut off, while images appeared on social networks showing angry crowds burning tires on the streets.
The army and paramilitary units have been deployed throughout the city, restricting the movement of civilians, a witness was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency. Khartoum Airport is closed and international flights have been suspended. Sudan’s main pro-democracy group has called on its supporters to resist any military coup.
Military and civilian leaders have been at odds since ruler Omar al-Bashir was ousted from power two years ago and a transitional government was formed. An agreement on the separation of powers between the army and a coalition of political forces – the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) – was agreed, creating the Sudan Sovereign Council. He was to rule the country for another year until elections were held and he passed to civilian rule.
But there have always been political disagreements over divisions within rival political groups – and within the military itself. Tensions escalated further due to a failed coup attempt in September attributed to Omar al-Bashir’s followers. This month, opponents of Sudan’s transition to democracy took to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, to call on the military to take control of the country. Pro-democracy groups said the protests were an attempt by the military to regain power.
Last Thursday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Khartoum to show solidarity with the transitional government. Support for the interim government has plummeted in recent months as there has been an economic crisis. Since gaining independence in 1956, Sudan has yet to find a functioning political system in the face of several coups.
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