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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

PM arrested, internet shutdown and emergency, what is happening in Sudan?

Sudan's prime minister has now been arrested amid a coup d'état and Sudan's premier general declared a state of emergency on Monday. Hours earlier, his army arrested caretaker Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok in a coup d'état and cut internet services. This development has happened at a time when there was a plan to hand over power to the civilian leadership in the country.
General Abdel Fattah Burhan announced in a televised message that the country's ruling Autonomous Council and the government led by Prime Minister Abdela Hamdok were being dissolved. He said clashes between political factions forced the military to intervene but vowed to complete the democratic process in the country and said the new technocrat government would hold elections in Sudan.

Thousands took to the streets in the capital Khartoum and the nearby city of Omderman to protest the military's capture of power. Videos shared online showed protesters blocking roads and setting tires on fire, while security forces lob tear gas to disperse them. The protesters can be heard shouting slogans -- 'people are strong, strong' and 'backdown is not an option'. Videos on social media show a large number of people crossing the Nile bridge to reach the capital. At least 12 protesters were injured, according to the Sudanese Doctors' Committee. 

The news comes amid efforts to form a democratic government that has been going on for more than two years after former autocratic ruler Omar al-Bashir was ousted from power. The development comes as Burhan was about to hand over the leadership of the ruling Provisional Council to the civilian government. Immediately after the ouster of al-Bashir, the Autonomous Council was running a government consisting of both the military and civilians. They had considerable differences of opinion on a number of issues and the pace of adoption of the democratic process in Sudan.

The United States of America and the European Union expressed concern over Monday's developments. United States of America Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said, "The United States of America is deeply concerned by this and has indicated that a military coup will affect United States of America aid to this poor country." Djibouti in the 'Horn of Africa' , Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. The United States of America Bureau of African Affairs wrote on Twitter, "As we have said time and again, Any forceful change in the transitional government could impact United States of America aid." EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell tweeted on Monday that military forces in Sudan are expected to detain several senior government officials, including the interim prime minister. The news is "extremely worrying" and he is tracking developments in the North East African nation.

"The EU calls on all stakeholders and regional partners to return to democratic rule," Borrell wrote, referring to Sudan's move from autocracy to democracy after long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was ousted from power in 2019. The first news of the military's possible capture of power started pouring in on Monday morning. The Information Ministry confirmed in the morning that Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok had been arrested and taken to an undisclosed location.The ministry told in a Facebook post that the government's Several senior ministers have also been arrested. It said that where they were kept is not known. Hamdok's office issued a statement on Facebook saying he and his wife were arrested on Monday morning and called it a "complete coup".

The Information Ministry said internet services were suspended as part of the power grab and the country's state-run news channels played traditional patriotic music. The army raided Sudan's state television in Omderman, taking several personnel into custody. The arrest comes at a time when tensions between Sudan's civilian and military leaders escalated just two weeks ago. The coup attempt failed in September, and fueled extremely conservative Islamists who want a military government against those who ousted autocratic former ruler Omar al-Bashir after widespread protests.

In recent days, both the camps have been protesting vigorously on the streets. Burhan, who leads the council, said in a televised message last month that the military would hand over power to a government elected by the Sudanese people. After independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956, there were several coups in Sudan. Al-Bashir seized power in 1989 by overthrowing the country's elected government. Two officials on condition of anonymity confirmed the detention of the five ministers.

In recent days, both the camps have been protesting vigorously on the streets. Burhan, who leads the council, said in a televised message last month that the military would hand over power to a government elected by the Sudanese people. After independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956, there were several coups in Sudan. Al-Bashir seized power in 1989 by overthrowing the country's elected government. Two officials on condition of anonymity confirmed the detention of the five ministers. "The only way to save the country is through dialogue and consensus and democratic transfer," said African Union chief Moussa Faki.