Sudan’s military detains prime minister in apparent coup; protests erupt

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Oct. 25 (UPI) — The Sudanese military early Monday detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in an apparent coup, officials said.

The Ministry of Culture and Information said in a Facebook post that Hamdok was detained by joint military forces inside his home from where he told the public in a statement to take to the streets in opposition.

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After refusing to endorse the coup, the military arrested Hamdok and moved him to an unknown location, the ministry said.

Civilian members of the country’s Transitional Sovereignty Council and several ministers have also been arrested, it said, adding bridges have been closed by military forces and Internet service has been cut.

NetBlocks confirmed Internet interruption in the country, showing connectivity “severely disrupted.” The Internet usage monitor first said connectivity dropped 34% of ordinary levels, but the cuts were more severe starting from 4:30 a.m.

“The disruption is likely to limit the free flow of information online and news coverage of incidents on the group,” it said.

The apparent coup occurred a month after government officials said they had thwarted a military plot to seize control of the country.

Sudan has been overseen by the Transitional Sovereignty Council that was put in place following the dethroning of the nation’s longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

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Protests followed against military rule and in support of the creation of a civilian government. Hamdok and the transitional council, which consists of six civilians and five military officers, were sworn in on August that same year. As prime minister, Hamdok was to lead the country for 39 months until elections were to be held.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which was the main pro-democracy organization behind the protests, had called on the public via Facebook to take to the streets “and completely occupy them” amid reports that the military was moving to take power.

An hour or so later, the group, which is comprised of professionals, doctors and trade unions, ordered people to block all roads with barricades and conduct a general strike of civil disobedience.

“We will not be ruled by the military and militias,” it said. “Revolution is a people’s revolution. Power and wealth are all for the people.”

Several unions, including the Joint Chamber of Civilian Governance, the Executive Committee of the Sudanese Pilots Union and the Sudanese Animal Wealth and Animal Production Specialists, have declared their resistance to the coup.

“Apostasy is impossible,” the pilot’s union said. “And the streets don’t betray.”

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The professionals association posted photos to its Facebook page of crowds forming in the streets of the capital Khartoum with the pilot’s union posting a video of people marching.

“The people of Sudan are back in the street to protect their democratic transition. Will the world stand shoulder to shoulder with them?” asked Agnes Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International, in a tweet.

U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman warned that U.S. aid will be at risk if changes are made to the transitional government.

“The U.S. is deeply alarmed at reports of a military take-over of the transitional government,” he said in a statement. “This would contravene the Constitutional Declaration and the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people and is utterly unacceptable.”

In Europe, EU foreign affairs head Josep Borrell said he was following the situation “with utmost concern.”

“The EU calls on all stakeholders and regional partners to put back on track the transitions process,” he tweeted.