Sudan’s military dissolves transitional government in coup

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, his wife and various civilian ministers were arrested.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s armed forces, said in a televised statement that an “independent and fair representative government” would assume power until one is elected in 2023.

Several articles of the constitution were suspended and state governors were removed, Burhan said.

Hamdok and his wife, Muna Abdallah, were arrested and taken to an undisclosed location on Monday, the prime minister’s economic advisor Adam Hireka told CNN.

The country’s Ministry of Information said earlier in the day that Hamdok had been placed under house arrest by “military forces,” in a statement posted on Facebook.

Hamdok’s Khartoum home appeared to be surrounded by the military according to images from the scene early on Monday.

Multiple government ministers and officials have been arrested, the Information Ministry said, as well as witnesses to the arrests.

Those arrested by “joint military forces” include various civilian ministers of Sudan’s transitional government and members of Sudan’s sovereign council, the Information Ministry said. CNN could not independently verify the Information Ministry’s claims, however family members said the Minister of Information was one of several senior officials detained.

Military forces also stormed Sudan’s state broadcaster in the nearby city of Omdurman and detained workers, the ministry added.

The ministry said Sudan’s leader is under pressure to release a statement in “support of the takeover” but had called on the people to take to the streets in protest.

“Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, in a message from his house arrest, asks the Sudanese to adhere to peaceful (means of protest) and occupy the streets to defend their revolution,” the ministry said in the Facebook post.

‘Worry in our hearts’

On Monday morning local time, protestors were seen gathering in the streets of the capital to protest the arrests, lighting bonfires and setting up roadblocks.

One eyewitness told CNN demonstrators have blocked three main bridges in Khartoum, including one that connects Omdurman to the capital and leads to the presidential palace. Security forces briefly fired tear gas near that bridge to disperse protesters, the eyewitness said, explaining that the security forces patrolling the streets are mainly military and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. There is minimal police presence on the streets, the eyewitness added.

Bullets were fired at protesters demonstrating against the coup outside Sudan’s General Command in the city, the Ministry of Information said in another statement on Facebook.

The ministry said there were casualties, but did not clarify how many, or who was shooting at demonstrators.

In multiple videos posted to social media, hundreds of demonstrators were seen walking towards army headquarters.

Protestors chanted: “We are walking holding worry in our hearts — and worry sleeps in people’s chests.”

Some videos showed protestors removing razor wire that had been placed across a road amid reports of street closures in several parts of the city.

Flights from Khartoum International Airport have also been suspended, a Civil Aviation Authority source told CNN, while the Ministry of Information said internet services had been “cut off from mobile phone networks and bridges were closed by military forces.”

Internet monitoring site NetBlocks confirmed internet connectivity was “severely disrupted” in Sudan on Monday, “manifesting in a telecommunications blackout for many.”

“Real-time network data show national connectivity at 34% of ordinary levels; incident ongoing,” NetBlocks added.

A source in Khartoum told CNN calls are not connecting for people in Sudan and the internet is down.

Political crisis

Military and civilian groups have been sharing power in the east African country in an uneasy alliance, dubbed the Sovereign Council, since the toppling of long-standing President Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
But following a failed coup attempt in September attributed to forces loyal to Bashir, military leaders have been demanding reforms to the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition and the replacement of the cabinet.

Civilian leaders, however, had accused them of aiming for a power grab.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the presidential palace in Khartoum on October 17 calling for the military to seize power. They were organized by a military-aligned faction of the FFC, and called for Burhan to initiate a coup and overthrow the government.
Days later, thousands of protesters took to the streets in a number of cities in support of civilian rule within the country’s power-sharing government.

Global leaders were watching the unfolding events in Sudan with concern on Monday; the US, EU and UN all urged stakeholders to return to the country’s democratic transition process.

The United States said it was “deeply alarmed at reports of a military takeover of the transitional government.”

“As we have said repeatedly, any changes to the transitional government by force puts at risk US assistance,” Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman said in a tweet on the official account of the US State Department’s Africa Bureau.

Feltman said the alleged military takeover “is utterly unacceptable” and “would contravene the Constitutional Declaration and the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people.”

African Union chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat called for the release of Hamdok and other civilian officials arrested in the apparent coup on Monday.

The UN’s Special Representative for Sudan said he was “deeply concerned about reports of an ongoing coup and attempts to undermine Sudan’s political transition.”

“The reported detentions of the Prime Minister, government officials, and politicians are unacceptable,” Volker Perthes said in a statement, adding: “It is the responsibility of these forces to ensure the security and wellbeing of people in their custody.”

Perthes has asked all parties to “exercise utmost restraint” and called for them to “return to dialogue” in order to “restore the constitutional order.”

CNN’s Akanksha Sharma, Hannah Ritchie and Jake Kwon contributed reporting.

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