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Military seizes power in Sudan, civilian leaders placed under arrest

Thousands in Sudan protested after the military took power in an apparent coup.

In a military coup in Sudan, an oil producing African country, the armed forces have arrested the prime minister and seized control of the government.

Sudanese Army Chief Gen Abdul Fattah al-Burhan declared a state of emergency in the country on Monday. He said that the military had taken control of the government and dissolved a governing council that included civilian members. He said that the military would rule until elections are held in 2023, reports Aljazeera.

According to a BBC report, protesters have taken to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and there are reports of gunfire. Military and civilian leaders have been at odds since long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was overthrown two years ago and a transitional government set up.

Sudan PM Hamdok arrested, military leader dissolves gov’t: Live

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok was placed under house arrest early Monday was taken to some undisclosed location after he refused to support the coup, Sudanese information ministry said. 

The army chief Burhan was  expected to hand over leadership of the cabinet to Hamdok in November, giving him a largely ceremonial post that would have signified full civilian control of Sudan for the first time in decades.

Pictures circulating on social media show arrests and other incidents. The internet in the country was largely cut off and military forces closed bridges. People gathered and took to the streets, burning tires to protest the arrests as the military and paramilitary forces deployed across the capital restricted their movement. The country’s main pro-democracy group and the largest political party urged people in separate appeals to take to the streets to counter the apparent military coup.

Sudan has been on edge since a failed coup plot last month unleashed bitter recriminations between military and civilian groups meant to be sharing power following the toppling of the country’s longtime autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

The political transition, which was agreed after Bashir was brought down by street protests, has seen Sudan emerge from international isolation under Bashir’s nearly three-decade rule. Elections were to be held by the end of 2023.

According to media reports, the  coup came a day after Jeffrey Feltman, US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, had met with Sudanese army officer Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as “Hemedti” and Abdul Fattah Burhan. These two men were the deputy and head of the Sovereignty Council from 2019, the key military and leadership position created after the fall of the former Sudanese government of Omar al-Bashir.

Burhan became the leader of Sudan and Hamdok his prime minister. The concept was that Sudan would move toward civilian rule. However, forces in the country have continued to struggle under the surface, between supporters of the old Muslim Brotherhood regime and those who wanted a more secular democracy.

Interestingly, there was an attempted coup in Sudan in September this year. According to  Hamdok, he Muslim Brotherhood was behind the attempted coup. It is also likely that the group received external support from countries that espouse the same ideology.

In just over a year, Africa has experienced three successful coups (two in Mali and one more recently in Guinea), one unsuccessful coup attempt in Niger, and an arbitrary military transfer of power in Chad following the assassination of its president.

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