A burning road barricade set up after the military coup in Khartoum, Sudan, October 25 2021. Picture: EL TAYEB SIDDIG/REUTERS
A burning road barricade set up after the military coup in Khartoum, Sudan, October 25 2021. Picture: EL TAYEB SIDDIG/REUTERS

Khartoum  — A Sudan doctors’ committee said on Monday three protesters were shot dead and more than 80 people wounded as demonstrations raged against the military’s seizure of power.

The exact number of injured is still being calculated, the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said Monday on Twitter. Members of the military opened fire on protesters who had gathered outside army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, causing casualties, according to Monim El-Jak, an adviser to Sudan’s minister of cabinet affairs.

Sudan’s military seized power in a coup on Monday and arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok,  prompting world governments and human rights groups to demand the immediate release of all Sudanese civilian political leaders

Hamdok was detained and taken to an undisclosed location after refusing to issue a statement in support of the takeover, said the country's information ministry, which was still apparently under the control of Hamdok’s supporters.

The military dissolved a transitional government that had been set up to guide the country to democracy after the overthrow of long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago.

Earlier, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Sovereign Council under which the military had shared power with civilians, announced a state of emergency, saying the armed forces needed to protect safety and security.

“We guarantee the armed forces' commitment to completing the democratic transition until we hand over to a civilian elected government,” he said, setting elections for July 2023.

“What the country is going through now is a real threat and danger to the dreams of the youth and the hopes of the nation.”

In Khartoum’s twin city Omdurman, protesters barricaded streets and chanted in support of civilian rule.

The international community condemned the coup, and called for Sudan’s leaders to be released.

The US government is “deeply alarmed” by reports of a military takeover, which is contrary to the will of Sudan’s people, the White House said. “We reject the actions by the military and call for the immediate release of the prime minister and others who have been placed under house arrest,” said White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre.

AU commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said Sudan’s political leaders should be released and human rights respected.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres condemned the coup and also demanded the release of Hamdok and all other official. “The UN will continue to stand with the people of Sudan,” Guterres wrote on Twitter.

Arab League secretary-general Ahmed Aboul Gheit expressed deep concern and called on all Sudanese parties to fully abide by “the constitutional document signed in August 2019 with the involvement of the international community and the Arab League, as well as the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement”.

Britain called the coup an unacceptable betrayal of the Sudanese people. France called for the immediate release of Hamdok and other civilian leaders. Egypt called on all parties to exercise self-restraint. Saudi Arabia said it was after developments with extreme concern.

Sudan has been ruled for most of its postcolonial history by military leaders who seized power in coups. It had become a pariah to the West and was on the US terrorism blacklist under Bashir, who hosted Osama bin Laden in the 1990s and is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes.

On edge

The country had been on edge since last month when a failed coup plot, blamed on Bashir supporters, unleashed recriminations between the military and civilians in the transitional cabinet.

In recent weeks a coalition of rebel groups and political parties aligned themselves with the military and called on it to dissolve the civilian government, while cabinet ministers took part in protests against the prospect of military rule.

Sudan has also been suffering an economic crisis. Helped by foreign aid, civilian officials have claimed credit for some tentative signs of stabilisation after a sharp devaluation of the currency and the lifting of fuel subsidies.

Washington had tried to avert the collapse of the power-sharing agreement by sending a special envoy, Jeffrey Feltman. The director of Hamdok’s office, Adam Hereika, said the military had mounted the takeover despite “positive movements” towards an agreement after meetings with Feltman in recent days.

US Democratic senator Chris Coons, chair of the Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said on Twitter US support for Sudan would “end if the authority of PM Hamdok & the full transitional government is not restored”. A US law bars funding governments brought to power by a military coup.

The military had been meant to pass on leadership of the Sovereign Council to a civilian figure in the coming months. But transitional authorities had struggled to move forward on issues including whether to hand Bashir over to The Hague.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an activist coalition in the uprising against Bashir, called for a strike.

Burhan’s “reckless decisions will increase the ferocity of the street's resistance and unity after all illusions of partnership are removed”, it said on its Facebook page.

The main opposition Forces of Freedom and Change alliance called for civil disobedience and protests across the country.

Military forces stormed Sudanese Radio and Television headquarters in Omdurman and arrested employees, the information ministry said on its Facebook page. Two major political parties, the Umma and the Sudanese Congress, condemned what they called a coup and campaign of arrests.

Hamdok, an economist and former senior UN official, was appointed as a technocratic prime minister in 2019 but struggled to sustain the transition amid splits between the military and civilians and the pressures of the economic crisis.

Update: October 25 2021
This story has been updated throughout. 

Reuters 

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