World News

NYTimes.com: Sudanese General saythJoint Civilian-Military Government has bin

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Tuesday, 26 October 2021

October 25. 2021
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Sudan’s military seized power on Monday, detaining the prime minister and other civilian political leaders in an unfolding coup that appeared to deal a sweeping blow to hopes for a democratic transition in one of Africa’s largest countries.

Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the military chief, announced at a news conference that he was dissolving the country’s joint civilian-military government and imposing a state of emergency. Even so, he vowed to press ahead with elections planned for July 2023.

There had been growing signs for weeks that the military, unwilling to fully share power and intent on protecting its own interests, was plotting a takeover.

General al-Burhan blamed the military’s actions on squabbling between rival civilian political factions in Sudan. “What the country is going through represents a threat,” he said.

As news of a putsch spread, thousands of protesters flooded into the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and television broadcast images of people burning tires as plumes of smoke spiraled into the sky. But soon after that, the information ministry announced that internet connections had been cut, making it difficult to know what was actually happening inside the country.

Sudan’s fledgling civilian-military government had been a fragile democratic hope for both Africa and the Arab world since the 2019 ouster of the country’s despised leader of three decades, Omar Hassan-al-Bashir.

Last month, the authorities thwarted an attempted coup by loyalists of Mr. Bashir. Then a crowd of anti-government protesters camped out on the steps of the Presidential Palace in Khartoum for the past 10 days with quiet military support, Western officials and analysts said.

The military has also backed a disaffected tribal group that has blocked Sudan’s biggest port, Port Sudan on the Red Sea, deepening the misery of long-suffering civilians already grappling with soaring inflation and chronic shortages of currency, food and fuel.

As the coup unfolded on Monday, the tribal leader behind the blockade announced he was calling it off.

The first sign of the coup came at dawn with the sudden disappearance of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The information ministry said in Facebook posts that the military had detained Mr. Hamdok and his wife, and pressured him to endorse the coup. When he refused, the ministry said, Mr. Hamdok was moved to an undisclosed location.

In detaining Mr. Hamdok, the military tore up a deal it signed in 2019, following the ouster of Mr. al-Bashir, when it agreed to share power with civilians until the country’s first free election in decades could be held.

General al-Burhan has been heading the Sovereignty Council, a joint civilian-military body that was overseeing the transition to democracy. As leader of that council, he has served as head of state for the past two years.

Under the terms of the transition, General al-Burhan was supposed to hand control of the sovereignty council to a civilian leader in the coming weeks — which would have put Sudan under full civilian control for the first time since 1989.

Sudanese civilian leaders on Monday urged citizens to take to the streets to defend the transition to democracy.

“The revolution is a revolution of the people,” the Sudanese Professionals Association, which is led by doctors, engineers and lawyers, said in a Facebook post. “Power and wealth belongs to the people. No to a military coup.”

It was still unclear whether the military, which is riven by divisions, was united behind the coup attempt. A senior Western official said that some Sudanese soldiers had stood between protesters and members of a powerful paramilitary group outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.

— Abdi Latif Dahir and Declan Walsh
Unrest in Sudan
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The New York Times

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