The Sudanese army dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency in what amounts to a military coup after months of tension between the civilian and military wings of the transitional governing body.
Major General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, head of the Sovereign Council that was supervising the transitional government, announced that the military coup, which prompted people to take to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, in protest, on television on Monday.
A health ministry official said seven people were shot dead and 140 wounded in clashes between soldiers and protesters in the streets.
General Burhan said the armed forces had taken control but would appoint a technocratic government as well as a constitutional court and legislative assembly. He said the army would prepare the country for the July 2023 elections.
Hours earlier, the Ministry of Culture and Information said in a Facebook post that the armed forces were holding Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok and other political figures. In a later post, she said, General Burhan «announced the seizure of power in a military coup.»
The transitional government came to power in 2019 after months of civil protests against the 30-year regime of Omar al-Bashir. Although protesters and civilian officials referred to Bashir’s overthrow as a «revolution,» it was the military that ultimately ended his regime.
In recent months, the loose coalition of forces that helped oust Bashir has broken apart as economic hardship has worsened, with inflation running at nearly 200 percent.
There has been a breakdown in relations between the military and civilians, said Nabil Adeeb, a prominent human rights lawyer in Khartoum. «There are divisions, differences of opinion, and internal problems,» he said, referring to divisions within the broad coalition of civilian forces, many of them over the direction of economic policy.
A statement issued by Mr. Hamdok’s office published by the Ministry of Culture and Information on its Facebook page, which succeeded in circumventing the internet ban, said that the prime minister was «kidnapped» and called on «the Sudanese people to come out and demonstrate by all peaceful means. . . . to restore their revolution from these thieves.» “.
«The military forces fired live bullets at the demonstrators who rejected the military coup,» the ministry loyal to Hamdok said after the demonstrators poured into the streets of Khartoum.
The international community condemned the military takeover, which occurred in the early hours of Monday morning shortly after the departure of the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, from Khartoum.
In a statement on Monday, the US government said it was «deeply concerned» by a development that would conflict with the «democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people and is totally unacceptable. As we have said repeatedly, any forceful changes to the transitional government would jeopardize US assistance.» .
Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, called for the «immediate resumption of civilian-military consultations» and urged the release of all «arrested political leaders». French President Emmanuel Macron said that «France condemns the coup attempt in Sudan in the strongest terms,» while European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on the two sides to «put the transition back on track.»
On Monday, the Ministry of Culture and Information said internet services were cut off from mobile phone networks and bridges were closed by military forces. NetBlocks, which monitors global internet shutdowns, has confirmed the outage.
Mo Ibrahim, a prominent British-Sudanese businessman, said the army had been preparing for a coup for weeks, using the «veneer of protests» and economic chaos as a cover for its actions. «It is a very sad development, but this is not over yet,» he said, referring to what he called the aspiration of millions of ordinary Sudanese to a democratic government.
The government has undertaken a series of economic reforms designed to revive the near-bankrupt economy, including removing costly fuel subsidies and moving to a more realistic exchange rate. But the resulting hardships added to popular discontent.
Sudanese businessmen said the government has failed to deal with the closure of the main road from Port Sudan over the past five weeks, adding to an already desperate economic situation. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021 (Additional reporting: Reuters)
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