The military has claimed it will reinstate the country’s constitution and form a caretaker government.
North Sudan is the name of the country that was created in 2011. The Prime Minister, who was detained by military officers, has been accused of corruption and mismanagement.
Protesters barricaded a road in Khartoum’s capital on Monday to protest the military’s imprisonment of members of Sudan’s transitional government. Credit… Getty Images/Ashraf Shazly/Agence France-Presse
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has Sudan’s prime minister and other civilian officials were seized by military troops on Monday in an apparent coup that jeopardized the country’s delicate transition from authoritarian control to democracy.
Military troops have put Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok under house arrest and pressed him to issue a “pro-coup statement,” according to the Sudanese Ministry of Culture and Information, who claimed in a Facebook post. Mr. Hamdok was transported to an undisclosed place after refusing to “endorse the coup,” according to the ministry.
The military reportedly imprisoned numerous key cabinet officials as well as civilian members of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, a governing body tasked with preparing the nation for democratic elections in 2022, according to the report.
Protesters poured into the streets of Khartoum as word of the arrests spread. People were seen burning tires on television channels, with plumes of smoke filling the sky. Internet links had been interrupted, and military bridges had been shuttered, according to the information ministry.
For months, the East African country has been rocked by political unrest and worries of a coup, as the shared power arrangement between military and civilian officials has strained. Pro-military protestors have called for the transitional government to be dissolved, while pro-democracy activists have condemned such a move as a coup.
In November, the army chief of staff was supposed to pass over cabinet leadership to Mr. Hamdok, a mostly ceremonial job that would have signaled complete civilian administration of Sudan for the first time in decades.
Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan’s prime minister, was seized by armed troops in an apparent coup. Credit… The New York Times/Brittainy Newman
On social media, the Sudanese Professionals Association, the country’s leading pro-democratic political organisation, warned that the military was prepared to take control. Residents were encouraged to go to the streets on Monday to protest what it dubbed a “military coup.”
In a Facebook post, the group, which is made up of physicians, engineers, and attorneys, said, “The revolution is a people’s revolution.” “The people have power and riches.” “No to a coup d’état.”
Following the detentions on Monday, state television played patriotic anthems, and local news sources claimed that the leader of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, was set to make a comment on the incidents.
Since the toppling of Sudan’s longstanding ruler, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, in 2019, the threat of a coup has loomed over the country’s transitional administration. Last month, police stopped an attempted coup by Mr. Bashir’s supporters, and additional plans were prevented before they could materialize.
The coronavirus outbreak and Sudan’s increasingly dire economic situation have added to the country’s political turmoil. In the face of increasing unemployment and food and commodity costs, the people has suffered.
This year, the United States has pledged $377 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan, making it the country’s largest contributor. While it has pressed the sovereignty council and the military to adhere to the democratic transition plan and safeguard protestors’ rights, it has not established precise standards for such assistance.
On Saturday, Jeffrey Feltman, the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, met with Prime Minister Hamdok and emphasized the Biden administration’s support for a civilian democratic transition.
Mr. Feltman said on Monday that the US was “very worried” by suggestions of a military takeover of the interim administration.
“This would be in direct violation of the Sudanese people’s democratic aspirations and is totally unacceptable,” Mr. Feltman said in a statement. “As we have often said, any forceful change to the transitional government jeopardizes US support.”
Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan’s prime minister, speaks before the United Nations General Assembly in 2019. Credit… The New York Times/Brittainy Newman
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who controlled Sudan for almost 30 years, was deposed in a coup in 2019, and the nation started to take tentative steps toward democracy, but turmoil and an attempted military takeover have troubled the country.
His administration was replaced by an 11-member sovereign council, comprised of six civilians and five military officials, tasked with preparing the nation for elections after a three-year transition period.
The council named Abdalla Hamdok, an economist with experience at the United Nations, as Prime Minister, and his administration set out on an ambitious plan to appease pro-democracy protesters and reintegrate into the international community.
Mr. Hamdok’s administration loosened decades of hardline Islamist regulations, banning the practice of public flogging and repealing an apostasy legislation. It also went through a political and economic makeover. It reopened discussions with rebel factions and launched an inquiry into Mr. al-deadly Bashir’s repression of the Darfur area, offering to prosecute and perhaps hand over individuals accused of war crimes to the International Criminal Court.
The coronavirus epidemic, poor economic development, and ongoing conflict in Darfur were formidable roadblocks to progress. Mr. Hamdok escaped an assassination attempt, and when the country went into lockdown last year to stop the spread of the coronavirus, there were fears of a coup.
Sudanese officials said last month that they had foiled an attempted coup by Mr. al-supporters. Bashir’s Soldiers attempted to take control of a state media facility in Omdurman, across the Nile from Khartoum’s capital, but were apprehended and detained.
Mr. Hamdok accused Bashir supporters, both military and civilian, for the attempted coup, describing it as a close call for the country’s delicate democratic transition.
Mr. Hamdok was set to take over chairmanship of the sovereign council from the army chief of staff next month, a mostly ceremonial job that also signals complete civilian authority of Sudan for the first time in decades.
Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s deposed president, at his trial in the capital Khartoum last year. Credit… Getty Images/Ashraf Shazly/Agence France-Presse
Sudanese demonstrators marched three years ago against President Omar Hassan al-administration, Bashir’s which had dominated the nation for three decades since a 1989 coup.
Mr. al-Bashir had presided through his country’s worst conflicts and famines, but it was fury over increasing food prices that sparked the first demonstrations in December of 2018. Mr. al-Bashir was pushed from power in April 2019 after almost four months of unrest and scores of killings at the hands of security forces.
He had controlled Sudan for the longest period of time since the country’s independence in 1956, and he was seen as a pariah in most of the world. In the 1990s, he harbored Osama bin Laden, prompting US sanctions, and in 1998, an American cruise missile destroyed a plant in Khartoum for its supposed ties to Al Qaeda.
Mr. al-Bashir ruled over a devastating 21-year conflict in southern Sudan, during which his soldiers dropped barrel bombs from aircraft on distant towns. When South Sudan attained independence in 2011, the nation was split into two sections. Mr. al-Bashir, on the other hand, continued to combat deadly rebels in other regions of Sudan.
He also dispatched tens of thousands of Sudanese troops to fight in other countries, particularly Yemen’s civil war.
Since his overthrow, Mr. al-Bashir, 77, has been imprisoned. He has been sought by the International Criminal Court in The Hague since 2009 for crimes perpetrated by his administration in Darfur, where the United Nations estimates that 300,000 people were murdered and 2.7 million displaced during a conflict that lasted from 2003 to 2008.
The International Criminal Court has been pressuring Sudan’s transitional government, which gained power after Mr. al-Bashir was removed, to hand up Mr. al-Bashir and other officials accused of crimes in Darfur.
In late 2019, Sudanese courts found Mr. al-Bashir guilty of money laundering and corruption and sentenced him to two years in prison. He is still facing allegations relating to the 1989 coup, and if convicted, he may face the death penalty or life in jail.
In May, Jeffrey Feltman, the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, met with Maryam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, Sudan’s foreign minister, in Khartoum, Sudan. Credit… Associated Press/Marwan Ali
As demonstrations erupted, the US ambassador for the Horn of Africa was in Sudan on Saturday, pushing the military and civilian leadership to complete the country’s planned transition to democracy.
On Saturday, Jeffrey Feltman, the United States’ special envoy for the Horn of Africa, met with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. They were accompanied by other top military members of the council, including Lt.-Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads the military and the sovereignty council, and Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti.
The American Embassy in Khartoum announced on Twitter that Mr. Feltman “confirmed US support for a civilian democratic transition in line with the clear demands of Sudan’s people.” He urged all sides to uphold the constitutional statement signed by the military and opposition after Mr. al-Bashir was deposed, as well as a peace accord struck by the government and rebel groups last year.
Protesters in Sudan in 2019. Credit… The New York Times’ Bryan Denton
Sudan was cut off from the rest of the world for the better part of three decades while former President Omar Hassan al-Bashir harbored terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, waged horrific wars against his own people, and wasted oil riches.
Since Mr. al-ouster Bashir’s in 2019, the country’s administration, which is made up of civilians and soldiers, has made overtures to Israel, the US, and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where his former leader is sought. The government hoped that by mending ties with erstwhile foes, it would be able to attract much-needed investment.
South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011 to create its own country, claiming more than 90% of the region’s oil deposits. Sudan’s economy, which was already suffering from sanctions, took a hit.
Following the formation of the new administration in 2019, initiatives were taken to enhance international relations.
Sudan was removed off the list of countries that support terrorism last year by the United States, which eased numerous sanctions on the country in 2017. The decision was announced by President Trump, who said that it was made in return for a $335 million payment to the victims of the 1998 Qaeda attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Sudan decided to recognize Israel as part of a Trump administration push to urge Arab countries to improve ties with Israel. Sudan’s decision, on the other hand, did not seem to go far enough to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel.
Sudan’s cabinet also decided to extradite Mr. al-Bashir in August after voting to adopt the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the criminal court.
However, his extradition remains a sensitive subject in Sudan, and his fate may now be in jeopardy. Along with Mr. al-Bashir, several of the country’s military commanders have been complicit in the crimes in Darfur, a western province. If he is extradited, he may provide evidence that might lead to the conviction of Sudan’s military commanders.
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