Sudan's military seized power by coup and arrested the prime minister

The Sudanese military took power Monday morning, dissolving the transitional administration hours after the arrest of the prime minister by troops. Protests against the coup that threatened the country's fragile progress towards democracy were protested by thousands.

Sudan's military seized power by coup and arrested the prime minister

According to the Sudan Doctors Committee, two protesters were shot dead by security forces.

This takeover comes two years after protestors forced Omar al-Bashir to resign and weeks before the military was to transfer the leadership of the government council to civilians.

Following the arrests of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, as well as other high-ranking officials, thousands of people flooded the streets of Khartoum and Omdurman. They blocked streets and set tires ablaze as security forces used tear gas for dispersal.

Protesters could be heard shouting "The people are stronger than ever" and "Retreat cannot be an option!" Social media videos showed large crowds crossing bridges across the Nile to reach the capital. The U.S. Embassy warned that troops were blocking some areas of the city.

Dura Gambo, a pro-democracy activist, claimed that paramilitary forces chased protesters in Khartoum's neighborhoods. She claimed that gunshots could occasionally be heard in several parts of the capital.

On the afternoon, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan (head of the military) announced that he would dissolve the government and the Sovereign Council. This joint military-civilian body was established shortly after al-Bashir was ousted to lead the country.

Burhan stated that quarrels between political factions led to the military having to intervene. Tensions have been increasing for several weeks as a result of the speed and course of the transition to democracy within Sudan, a country in Africa that is linked through language and culture to the Arab World.

The general declared an emergency and stated that the military would appoint technocratic leaders to lead the country to the elections scheduled for July 2023. He made it clear that the military would remain in control.

He stated that the Armed Forces would continue to complete the democratic transition up until the handover by a civilian, elected government. He said that the constitution of the country would be revised and that a legislative body with the participation "young men or women who participated in this revolution" would be created.

The Information Ministry, which is still loyal to the dissolved government, called his speech "announcement for a military coup".

Karine Jean-Pierre, White House spokesperson, stated that the United States is "deeply alarmed" by reports of a military coup and demanded the immediate release of the prime Minister and other officials.

The U.N.'s political mission to Sudan called the arrests of government officials "unacceptable" and Joseph Borrell, EU foreign affairs chief, tweeted that he was closely following the developments with "utmost concern."

Sudan has been working to gradually remove the international pariah status that it was under the autocrat al-Bashir, who is still in prison. In 2020, the United States removed Sudan from its state supporter list for terror. This opened the doors to foreign loans and investment.

The shock of many economic reforms required by international lending institutions has caused Sudan's economy to struggle. U.S. Senator Chris Coons, who is a member the Foreign Relations Committee, and an ally to President Joe Biden, tweeted that the U.S. could reduce aid to Sudan "if PM Hamdok's authority is not restored & the transitional government is not fully restored."

There have been fears that the military may be plotting a coup. In fact, there was a failed attempt to overthrow al-Bashir in September. Tensions only grew as tensions rose after the country split along old lines with more conservative Islamists wanting a military government against those who overthrew al-Bashir during protests. Both camps have been protesting in the streets in recent days.

The generals are calling for the dissolution of Hamdok's transitional regime. Burhan, who heads the Sovereign Council ruling Sovereign Council, has repeatedly stated that the military would only give power to an elected government. This suggests that the generals may not be able to stick to their plan to hand the leadership of the body to a civilian sometime this November. Although the council is the ultimate decision-maker, the Hamdok government is responsible for running Sudan's daily affairs.

Jeffrey Feltman (the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa) met with Sudanese officials this weekend. A senior Sudanese military officer said that he tried unsuccessfully to convince the generals to follow the plan during his visit.

According to the official, the arrests started a few hours later. He spoke under condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to brief media.

The support of tribal protesters has allowed the military to be more assertive in its dispute against civilian leaders. They have blocked the main Red Sea port for several weeks. Burhan and his deputy, Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo are the two most senior military officers. They also have close ties to Egypt and wealthy Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Before dawn, the first reports about a possible military coup emerged. The Information Ministry confirmed these hours later. It said Hamdok and other senior government officials had been detained and their whereabouts were not known. The country's state news channel broadcast patriotic traditional music and internet access was severely disrupted.

Hamdok's office condemned the Facebook detentions as a "complete coup." It also stated that his wife was also being held.

Since 1956, when Sudan gained independence from Britain and Egypt, it has been subject to several coups. Al-Bashir was elected to power in 1989 after a coup that saw the removal of the country's previous elected government.

According to a senior military officer and another, among those arrested Monday were political and high-ranking government officials, as well as senior politicians. They spoke only because they weren't authorized to share information with the media.

The country's pro-democracy main group and two political parties made appeals to the Sudanese for their support to march on the streets after news of the arrests broke.

The Communist Party called for workers to protest Burhan's "full military coup".

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