Prime Minister, officials arrested in apparent coup in Sudan

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Military forces arrested Sudan’s interim prime minister and senior government officials on Monday, disrupted internet access and blocked bridges in the capital, the country’s information ministry said, calling the actions Rebellion.

In response, thousands of people flooded the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and its sister city of Omdurman to protest the apparent military takeover. Images shared online appeared to show protesters blocking streets and setting tires on fire as security forces used tear gas to disperse them.

The demonstrators could be heard chanting: “People are stronger, stronger! and “Retirement is not an option! As plumes of smoke from burning tires filled the air.

A military takeover would be a major setback for Sudan, which has struggled with a staged transition to democracy since longtime leader Omar Bashir was toppled by mass protests two years ago .

The United States and the European Union have expressed concern over Monday’s developments.

Jeffrey Feltman, the US special envoy to the Horn of Africa, said Washington was “deeply alarmed” by the reports. Feltman had met with Sudanese officials over the weekend in an effort to resolve a growing dispute between the country’s civilian and military rulers. EU Foreign Affairs Chief Joseph Borrell said in a tweet that he was following events with “the greatest concern”.

The first reports of a possible military takeover began to emerge from Sudan before dawn on Monday. In the middle of the morning, the Ministry of Information confirmed that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok had been arrested and taken to an undisclosed location. Several senior government officials were also arrested, the ministry said in a Facebook post. He said their fate was unknown.

Another hallmark of a takeover, Internet access was largely disrupted, and the country’s state news channel broadcast traditional patriotic music. At one point, military forces stormed the Sudanese public television offices in Omdurman and arrested a number of workers, the information ministry said.

Monday’s arrests come after weeks of growing tension between Sudanese civilian and military leaders. A failed coup attempt in September fractured the country along old lines, pitting more conservative Islamists who want a military government against those who toppled Bashir more than two years ago in mass protests. In recent days, both camps have taken to the streets to demonstrate.

Under Hamdok and the transitional council, Sudan slowly emerged from years of international pariah status under Bashir. The country was removed from the United States’ list of supporting terrorism in 2020, opening the door to much-needed international loans and investment. But the country’s economy has struggled with the brunt of a number of economic reforms called for by international credit institutions.

There have been previous military coups in Sudan since it gained independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956. Bashir came to power in a 1989 coup that overthrew the country’s last elected government.

Among those arrested on Monday, in addition to Hamdok, were five senior government officials, according to two officials who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to share information with the media.

Among the detainees were the Minister of Industry Ibrahim Sheikh; Minister of Information Hamza Baloul; Mohammed Fiky Suliman, member of the country’s ruling transitional body known as the Sovereign Council; and Faisal Mohammed Saleh, media advisor to Hamdok, the interim prime minister. Ayman Khalid, governor of the state that hosts Khartoum, was also arrested, according to his office’s official Facebook page.

After word of the arrests spread, the country’s main pro-democracy group and the Sudanese Communist Party launched separate calls for the Sudanese to take to the streets.

Separately, the Communist Party called on workers to go on strike in an act of mass civil disobedience after what it described as a “complete military coup” orchestrated by the head of the Sovereign Council, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan.

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