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Sudan military arrests ministers as fears of coup mount

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Arrests come amid growing tension between the military and Hamdok’s civilian-led government

The Sudanese military on Monday arrested Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and several members of his civilian-led government in what two prominent political groups described as a coup.

Residents of Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, said thousands of soldiers were stationed across the city at dawn and that several important bridges on the Nile had been closed to traffic.

They also reported an internet blackout.

Mosques around the capital used loudspeakers to call on people to go out and protest against the coup.

“A full-fledged coup … took place this Monday morning and several political leaders have been arrested,” Sudan’s communist party said.

It called on the Sudanese people to wage a “civil disobedience” campaign to foil the attempt. It said Sudan’s de facto president, Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, was behind the coup.

A similar call was made by the Professionals’ Association, which also called on citizens to take to the streets to “counter the coup.”

The association is a key component of the Forces of Freedom and Change FFC, a pro-democracy alliance that serves as a political patron and power base of the government.

There has been no official word yet from the military or the government on the arrests, but local media said Gen Al Burhan would address the nation within hours.

Local and regional media reports said the ministers of industry and information, the governor of Khartoum and a civilian member of the Sovereignty Council were among those arrested in predawn raids. The families of some of the officials announced their arrest on social media before the internet was cut off.

“People will go out to the streets and a civil disobedience campaign will begin,” said Sulaima Ishaq, a prominent activisit who took part in the street protests in 2018-19 against the rule of dictator Omar Al Bashir.

“People no longer fear death. In Sudan now, death is no longer a frightening idea, but the military are unable to comprehend that.”

Monday’s reported coup came amid growing and increasingly acrimonious tensions between the military and the FFC, who have been partners in a transitional administration since the ouster in 2019 of dictator Omar Al Bashir.

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The reports also come just hours after US envoy Jeffrey Feltman met Gen Al Burhan, who is also the commander in chief of the armed forces and has been the most senior soldier in the military-civilian transitional administration in office since 2019. It was the second meeting between the two men in as many days.

Mr Feltman, the special envoy for the Horn of Africa, arrived in Sudan on Saturday to try to defuse tensions between the two sides, which were exacerbated by a failed coup attempt last month.

The US Embassy in Khartoum said Mr Feltman told Sudanese leaders in a series of meetings that Washington’s supported a transition to “civilian and democratic” rule in Sudan.

Leaders of the FFC warned over the weekend that a coup was “creeping” but gave no details.

They also said they wanted Gen Al Burhan to hand over leadership of the Sovereign Council to a civilian next month as stipulated in a power-sharing charter the two sides signed in August 2019.

Gen Al Burhan has repeatedly insisted that he wanted to see a democratic Sudan, but observers say he has also been showing signs of political ambitions of his own and has dropped hints that the military would not hand over power except to an elected government.

The military, he said, was the “guardian” of the nation.

The FFC said Gen Al Burhan wanted to see Mr Hamdok’s government replaced with one that would allow the military to have the final word on policies. It has also accused the military of being behind a sit-in protest outside the republican palace by its supporters.

The group also suspects that the military is behind a month-long blockade of the country’s main commercial seaport on the Red Sea by activists in eastern Sudan. The blockage has caused a severe bread shortage and, if it continues, could lead to scarcity of other basic items like fuel.

Hundreds of thousands marched in Khartoum and other major cities on Thursday to show their support for Mr Hamdok’s government and demand that Gen Al Burhan step down.

Source:Sudan military arrests ministers as fears of coup mount (thenationalnews.com)

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