Sudan’s top general declared a state of emergency, dissolved the authorities leading country’s democratic transition, and announced the formation of a new government after soldiers detained civilian leaders on Monday in what activists denounced as a “coup”.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s announcement in a televised address came after armed forces detained figures of the government in charge of leading the transition to democracy since the April 2019 ouster of autocratic president Omar al-Bashir.
“To rectify the revolution’s course, we have decided to declare a state of emergency nationwide… dissolve the transitional sovereign council, and dissolve the cabinet,” Burhan said.
His statement came as clashes erupted in the capital Khartoum, with soldiers firing live rounds at people who took to the streets to protest against the power grab.
The violence was largely centred outside the army headquarters in the capital hours after soldiers detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, ministers in his government and civilian members of Sudan’s ruling council, the information ministry said.
They were taken away after “refusing to support the coup”, it said on Facebook.
Internet services were cut across the country around dawn and the main roads and bridges into Khartoum shut, before soldiers stormed the headquarters of Sudan’s state broadcaster in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, the ministry said.
People took to the streets soon after, setting tyres ablaze and piling rows of bricks across roads to block them in protest against the military move, an AFP correspondent reported.
“Military forces have fired live bullets on protesters rejecting the military coup outside the army headquarters,” the information ministry said.
Around a dozen people have so far been wounded in the clashes, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, an independent medics union.
– INTERNATIONAL CONCERN –
The power grab, which comes after weeks of tensions between the military and civilian figures sharing power since Bashir’s ouster, was condemned by the international community.
The European Union called for the release of the civilian leadership and insisted “violence and bloodshed must be avoided”.
“The EU is very concerned about Sudan’s military forces reportedly putting Prime Minister Hamdok under house arrest, as well as detaining other members of the civilian leadership, and we urge for their fast release,” said European Commission spokeswoman Nabila Massrali.
America’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said “the US is deeply alarmed at reports of a military takeover of the transitional government”.
“Any changes to the transitional government by force puts at risk US assistance,” he said on Twitter.
The UN described the detentions as “unacceptable”.
“I call on the security forces to immediately release those who have been unlawfully detained or placed under house arrest,” said Volker Perthes, its special representative to Sudan.
The African Union and Arab League also expressed concern.