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Sudan’s military unseated the civilian government on Monday and declared a national state of emergency, after weeks of intense political strife in the East African nation.
The country’s transitional government had been dissolved, army General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announced in a televised address, saying the takeover was necessary due to the recent “chaos and violence” in Sudan.
The military would pursue the country’s return to democracy and hand over to a civilian government after elections in July 2023, he said.
The Information Ministry had said earlier that Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok had been taken to an unknown location. He had apparently refused to issue a statement of support for the coup and instead called for street protests.
Other members of the government are also said to have been detained, according to broadcaster Al-Hadath and the Sudan Tribune news website.
But it remained unclear how the general populace would react to the power grab. Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Khartoum to protest against the military takeover, a DPA correspondent at the scene reported.
The protesters broke through security barricades and headed towards the military’s headquarters in the capital. Another witness said calls to resist the military were aired from a mosque in the city’s Riad district. Demonstrators were throwing rocks and tyres onto a nearby road, said the witness.
Regular gunfire was also heard in the capital, and barricades were set on fire.
Sudan was ruled by former president Omar al-Bashir for almost 30 years until he was forced out of office in April 2019, after months of mass protests and a military coup.
The military and the civilian opposition then agreed on a joint transitional government to pave the way for elections, but it has not been a smooth process.
The Sudanese government previously said it was the target of a coup attempt on September 21. Since then, the political situation in Sudan has worsened.
Nor has the economic situation been easy. Despite billions of dollars of debt being forgiven by other states earlier this year - a step designed to aid the country’s transition to democracy - many people have not seen improvement in their living standards. The UN reports that food and fuel prices have skyrocketed in recent months, all of which has prompted yet more protests in the country.
But demonstrations have been ongoing for weeks and protesters have also demanded democratic reforms and the withdrawal of the military from the government.
According to the British organization Netblocks, which documents internet outages worldwide, the internet, mobile phone network and parts of the landline network in Sudan have been disrupted since early on Monday.
There were also reports that the military stormed Sudan’s central radio and TV broadcaster - in Omdurman, near Khartoum - and detained employees there.
The day’s events prompted protests from the European Union and the United Nations, as well as from France.
“We call on the security forces to immediately release those they have unlawfully detained,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, a sentiment echoed in a tweet by French President Emmanuel Macron.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also urged the release of all detained officials and called on all sides for “full respect for the constitutional charter to protect the hard-won political transition.” Meanwhile, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry stressed the importance of stability and security, noting how necessary it is for Egypt and the region. It called on all parties to prioritize the country’s interests and exercise responsibility and restraint.
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