Sudan – After soldiers seized civilian leaders Monday in what activists called a “coup,” Sudan’s top general declared a state of emergency, dissolved the institutions overseeing the country’s democratic transition, and announced the formation of a new government. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan made the declaration in a televised address after armed forces imprisoned members of the government in charge of overseeing the democratic transition since President Omar al-Bashir was deposed in April 2019.
“To correct the revolution’s trajectory, we have decided to proclaim a nationwide state of emergency… disband the transitional sovereign council, and dissolve the cabinet,” Burhan added. Soldiers fired live rounds at protesters who took to the streets to protest the power grab, according to his statement, which came as confrontations erupted in the capital, Khartoum. According to the information ministry, the violence was mostly concentrated outside the army headquarters in the capital, hours after soldiers seized Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, his cabinet ministers, and civilian members of Sudan’s ruling council.
They were detained after “refusing to support the coup,” according to a Facebook post. Before soldiers invaded the headquarters of Sudan’s official broadcaster in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, internet services were cut across the country around morning, and the key routes and bridges entering Khartoum were closed, according to the ministry. People flocked to the streets soon after, torching tyres and laying rows of bricks across highways to block them in protest at the military move, according to reports.
The communications ministry reported that “military troops fired live rounds on protestors opposing the military coup outside the army headquarters.” According to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, an independent medics’ union, around a dozen people have been injured in the skirmishes thus far.
The international community decried the power grab, which comes after weeks of tensions between military and civilian officials sharing authority following Bashir’s removal. The European Union demanded the civilian leadership’s release and stated that “violence and bloodshed must be avoided.” “The EU is deeply concerned that Sudanese military forces have apparently placed Prime Minister Hamdok under house arrest, as well as holding other members of the civilian leadership, and we call for their immediate release,” said Nabila Massrali, a spokesperson for the European Commission.
“The US is very disturbed at allegations of a military takeover of the transitional government,” said America’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman. “Forcible changes to the transitional government jeopardize US help,” he tweeted. The detentions were deemed “reprehensible” by the United Nations. “I demand that all who have been unlawfully arrested or placed under house arrest be released immediately,” Volker Perthes, the UN’s special envoy to Sudan, said.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, a trade union umbrella group that was instrumental in driving the anti-Bashir protests in 2019, criticized what it called a “military coup” and urged demonstrators to “vigorously fight” it. The announcement comes two days after a Sudanese faction pushing for a civilian-led transition of power warned of a “creeping coup” at a news conference that was stormed by an anonymous mob. Bashir, who controlled Sudan for three decades with an iron fist, is imprisoned at Khartoum’s high-security Kober jail. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for the ex-president on allegations of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur area.
Since August 2019, a civilian-military administration has been in charge of managing the country’s transition to complete civilian authority. However, the biggest civilian group, the Forces for Freedom and Change, which led the anti-Bashir demonstrations in 2019, has split into two sections. “The current situation is staged — and it takes the form of a creeping coup,” Yasser Arman, the leader of the mainstream FFC, said during a news conference in Khartoum on Saturday. “We reaffirm our faith in the administration, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and the reforming of transitional institutions — but not through diktats or imposition,” Arman continued.
Sudan’s bankers’ and doctors’ associations declared “civil disobedience” campaigns on Monday. Protesters carried the Sudanese flag through the streets of Khartoum. Some of them chanted, “Civilian rule is the people’s choice,” and “No to military control.” “We will not tolerate military dictatorship and are willing to offer our lives for Sudan’s democratic transition,” demonstrator Haitham Mohamed declared. “We will not leave the streets until the civilian government and the transition are restored,” another protester, Sawsan Bashir, stated.