The dramatic turn of events in Sudan which saw the nation’s top generals seizing power on Monday, arresting Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and other top civilian leaders before dissolving the government, has pushed thousands of protesters to the streets of the capital Khartoum.
The military has also responded to the demonstrations with high handedness with reports saying troops opened fire on the protesters.
Still, television broadcasts showed the defiant protesters have pressed on for their demands into Tuesday, burning tyres to barricade roads with some others retreating to neighbourhoods for their procession.
“Civilian rule is the people’s choice,” New York Times said they chanted, with many women also shouting “no to military rule.”
The spread of the demonstration unnerved the military, and troops fire has killed seven people and wounded at least 140 others, a Sudanese health ministry official told Reuters.
There are reports that troops have been going house to house in Khartoum arresting local protest organisers.
Sudan’s doctors’ union and the information ministry reported on Facebook that fatal shootings happened outside the military headquarters.
The nation’s information ministry said in a Facebook post on Monday that the military forces had pressured Mr Hamdok to release a “pro-coup statement” which he refused.
Mr Hamdok’s refusal to “endorse the coup,” informed why he was moved to an unknown location, the ministry added.
Sudan was still consolidating on its fragile democracy after it emerged from decades of harsh autocratic rule and international isolation when the military struck on Monday barely two and half years after the toppling of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir.
Mr al-Bashir’s ouster, triggered by the increase in the cost of bread and general economic stagnancy, had offered hopes for the Sudanese people.
The civilian leaders and their military counterparts agreed to share power in an uneasy alliance that would see a peaceful transition to full civilian control for the first time since 1989.
But the alliance has now ultimately collapsed, mirroring a staggering rebuke to the Western countries which had shown optimism to a successful transition and had scrambled to stave off a military takeover.
The coup has drawn global condemnation from world leaders and regional organisations. Yet, the military would not budge.
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the lieutenant general who heads the joint civilian-military Sovereignty Council overseeing those that had been governing the country, told a news conference on Monday that a new government would lead the country until elections in July 2023.
He sought to justify the takeover by blaming squabbles among political groups.
“What the country is going through represents a threat,” he said.
“This is a new Sudan,” he added. “We call on everybody to come together to develop and build the country.”
Khartoum airport has been closed and international flights, suspended, the BBC reported. The internet and most phone lines have been cut. Central Bank staff have reportedly gone on strike. The country’s doctors have reportedly refused to work in military-run hospitals except in emergencies.
Nigeria, AU, UN condemn coup
The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the ministry of foreign affairs, on Monday condemned the military takeover in Sudan.
A statement by the ministry signed by Esther Sunsuwa, its spokeswoman, also called for a transition to civil rule and the release of the arrested leaders.
Top military generals in Sudan arrested Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and other top civilian leaders, declared a state of emergency, and dissolved the interim government on Monday.
Mr Hamdok was taken to an unknown location after he refused to “endorse the coup” by releasing a “pro-coup statement,” Sudan’s information ministry said.
The Nigerian government said it “strongly condemns the coup d’etat,” calling “for the immediate release of the Prime Minister and all other political prisoners and an immediate restoration of the transitional government and implementation of the agreed roadmap to return the country to constitutional democracy.”
The African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat also called for the release of Sudan’s political leaders and the respect of human rights.
“The Chairperson calls for the immediate resumption of consultations between civilians and military.
“The Chairperson reaffirms that dialogue and consensus is the only relevant path to save the country and its democratic transition,” Mr Mahamat said in a statement on Facebook.
Meanwhile, the UN special representative in Sudan, Volker Perthes, in a live broadcast, called on the security forces “to immediately release those who have been unlawfully detained or placed under house arrest.”
“All parties must immediately return to dialogue and engage in good faith to restore the constitutional order,” Mr Perthes said.
Likewise, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the military’s takeover as “a betrayal of Sudan’s peaceful revolution.”
The U.S. has halted $700 million in aid to Sudan, Reuters reported.
The nation’s embassy in Khartoum called “on all actors who are disrupting Sudan’s transition to stand down, and allow the civilian-led transitional government to continue its important work to achieve the goals of the revolution.”
The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, also called “on all Sudanese parties to fully abide by the constitutional document signed in August 2019.”
He urged them to obey the pact which involved the international community and the Arab League, as well as the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement.
On its part, Sudan’s fellow Arab League neighbour, Egypt, through its foreign ministry, urged “all parties in the brotherly nation of Sudan to exercise self-restraint and responsibility to prioritize the welfare of the country and national agreement.”
Another Arab League member, Saudi Arabia, called for “restraint, calm, de-escalation, and to preserve all the political and economic gains that have been achieved and all that aims to protect the unity of the ranks among all political components in brotherly Sudan.”
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation said the arrest of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other leaders “is completely unacceptable and represents a grave threat to the transition process in Sudan.”
“They must be released swiftly and the transition government restored to full operation,” the foundation noted.