Sudan Army Vows New Government After Staging Latest African Coup
Sudan’s military arrested the prime minister and members of his cabinet before vowing to form a new government, in the latest African coup that threatens to derail the country’s path to democracy after decades of dictatorship.
The dispute between the military and civilian components of Sudan’s power-sharing administration was such that it “threatens the security of the nation,” the army figure that headed Sudan’s sovereign council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said Monday in a brief televised address.
Insisting the army remained committed to holding free elections in 2023, Burhan declared a nationwide state of emergency and said the council, Sudan’s most powerful ruling body, would be dissolved. Protests erupted in parts of the capital, Khartoum, early Monday, and there were later reports of gunfire and injuries.
Sudan has worked to end its international isolation since long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was overthrown amid mass demonstrations in 2019, moving to normalize ties with Israel and repairing relations with the U.S., which rescinded its almost three-decade listing of the country as a sponsor of terrorism. Sudan has managed to secure International Monetary Fund support and a pledge by the Paris Club of creditors to restructure $23.5 billion of its debt.
That’s at risk following Monday morning’s events. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s home was surrounded by the army and he was moved to an undisclosed location after he refused to endorse a military takeover, the Information Ministry said in a statement. Four ministers from the government’s civilian wing were also detained, according to a person familiar with the events.
The apparent coup “looks very much like an attempt by the security forces to maintain control over economic and political interests, and to resist the flip to a civilian dispensation, a core component of the country’s slated transition to multi-party democracy,” said Jonas Horner, deputy director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crisis Group.
“Several key regional states have been integral to emboldening the military,” he said. “In order to walk the military back from its current trajectory, key international stakeholders need in particular to press Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned “the ongoing military coup” and said Hamdok and all other officials “must be released immediately.”
The U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, said “any changes to the transitional government by force puts at risk U.S. assistance.”
Sudan has been in political turmoil since an alleged coup attempt a month ago exposed festering divisions between civilian and military officials. Feltman visited Sudan at the weekend in an effort to calm tensions that had reached boiling point as the date neared for the army to cede leadership of the council.
In the run-up to the events, ex-rebel groups and a large community in eastern Sudan joined senior military officials in accusing the civilian government of failing to deliver on its promises. A blockade at Port Sudan on the Red Sea had piled pressure on Hamdok’s administration.
The military takeover is the latest in a series of putsches over the past year in Africa. Soldiers overthrew Guinean President Alpha Conde last month, while the military in neighboring Mali has intervened in national politics twice in less than a year. In Chad, the army staged a coup after the death of Idriss Deby in April. Sudan itself has been roiled by intermittent coups since independence in 1956.
Sudan’s Information Ministry on its Facebook page, which is still speaking in the name of Hamdok and his colleagues, reported calls by professors, doctors and others for civil disobedience at places of work.
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