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Monday, August 8, 2022

Sudan’s prime minister is detained in an apparent coup, and the military declares national emergency

In an apparent coup, Sudan’s top general proclaimed a state of emergency on Monday, hours after his soldiers detained the nation’s acting prime minister and interrupted the internet. The country was on the verge of a scheduled transfer to civilian rule.

General Abdel-Fattah Burhan declared that he was dissolving the country’s governing Sovereign Council, as well as the government headed by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, in a televised speech. The military, he added, was forced to interfere because of disagreements among political groups, but he vowed to see the country’s democratic transition through to completion, noting that a new technocrat administration will take Sudan to elections.

Thousands of people took to the streets of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and its twin city, Omdurman, to demonstrate their opposition to what they saw to be a military takeover. Demonstrators were seen blocking roadways and lighting tyres on fire, according to footage published online, while security officers fired tear gas to disperse them.

The chants of “The people are stronger, stronger” and “Retreat is not an option!” could be heard as plumes of smoke filled the air as protesters took to the streets. In videos posted on social media, massive groups could be seen crossing bridges over the Nile to get to the heart of Cairo.

According to the Sudanese Doctors Committee, at least 12 protestors were injured during protests, however the organisation did not provide specifics.

If the military takes over, it would be a big blow for Sudan, which has been battling a stop-and-go transition to democracy since long-time despot Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by enormous demonstrations two years ago.

It is less than a month before Burhan is due to over control of the ruling transitional council to a civilian administrator. The Sovereign Council, which has been in charge of the nation since soon after al-overthrow, Bashir’s is made up of both military and civilian members, who have regularly argued over the trajectory of the country’s development and the rate at which democracy is being implemented.

The United States and the European Union voiced their displeasure with the events on Monday.

The reports, according to Jeffrey Feltman, the United States’ special envoy to the Horn of Africa, have “seriously worried” the United States. A meeting with Sudanese authorities took place over the weekend with the goal of resolving the escalating conflict between civilian and military leaders in the country. In a tweet, EU foreign affairs director Joseph Borrell said that he is closely monitoring the situation with “the deepest worry.”

The first indications of a probable military takeover in Sudan started to trickle out of the country before daybreak on Monday morning. Early in the morning, the Information Ministry stated that the prime minister, Abdalla Hamkok, had been arrested and was being held at an unknown place. A number of top government officials were also arrested, according to a Facebook post from the ministry. It said that they were unable to be located.

Hamdok’s office stated in a statement posted on Facebook that he and his wife were arrested early Monday morning as part of what it characterised as a “full coup” against the government.

Other telltale signs of a takeover were widespread internet outages and the broadcasting of patriotic traditional music on the country’s official television station. According to the Information Ministry, military soldiers raided the headquarters of Sudan’s state-run television in Omdurman at one point and arrested a number of employees.

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