Sudan coup: General declares emergency after protests over arrest of prime minister

ITV News International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar reports on the coup in Sudan, with protesters taking to the streets

Sudan's military has seized power after placing the prime minister under house arrests and declaring a state of emergency while protesters have flooded the streets.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and several other senior officials were put under house arrest in the early hours of Monday while the civilian government the disolved.

Thousands of people flooded into the streets to protest against the coup that threatens the country’s shaky progress toward democracy.

Security forces opened fire on some of the crowds, and three protesters were killed, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Committee, which said 80 people were wounded.

The takeover comes more than two years after protesters forced the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and just weeks before the military was supposed to hand the leadership of the council that runs the country over to civilians.As plumes of smoke filled the air, protesters could be heard chanting, “The people are stronger, stronger!” and “Retreat is not an option!” Videos on social media showed large crowds crossing bridges over the Nile to the centre of the capital.The US, EU and African Union have condemned the move and called for the release of Mr Hamdok.

In a televised address, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan announced he was dissolving the country’s ruling Sovereign Council.

He said quarrels among political factions prompted the military to intervene but he pledged to complete the country’s democratic transition, saying a new technocrat government would lead Sudan to elections.

The general declared a state of emergency and said the military will appoint a technocratic government to lead the country to elections, set for July 2023. But he made clear the military will remain in charge.

“The Armed Forces will continue completing the democratic transition until the handover of the country’s leadership to a civilian, elected government,” he said. He added that the country’s constitution would be rewritten and a legislative body would be formed with the participation of “young men and women who made this revolution.”

The Information Ministry, still loyal to the dissolved government, called his speech an “announcement of a seizure of power by military coup.”

The Umma Party, the country’s largest political party, described the arrests as an attempted coup, and called on people to take to the streets in resistance.Earlier, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, a group leading demands for a transition to democracy, issued a similar call.

A possible takeover by the military would be a major setback for Sudan, which has grappled with a transition to democracy since Omar al-Bashir was toppled by mass protests.

Sudan’s capital Khartoum Credit: AP

The arrests come after weeks of rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders.

A failed coup attempt in September fractured the country along old lines, pitting more conservative Islamists who want a military government against those who toppled Mr al-Bashir in mass protests.

In recent days, both camps have taken to the street in demonstrations.

The officials said the detained include industry minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh, information minister Hamza Baloul, Mohammed al-Fiky Suliman who is a member of the ruling Sovereign Council, and Faisal Mohammed Saleh, a media adviser to Mr Hamdok.

Ayman Khalid, governor of the state containing the capital, Khartoum, was also arrested, according to the official Facebook page of his office.

Protesters could be heard chanting, “The people are stronger, stronger” Credit: AP

Under Mr Hamdok and the transitional council, Sudan has slowly emerged from years of international pariah status under Mr al-Bashir.

Since al-Bashir, who remains in prison, was forced from power, Sudan has worked to slowly rid itself the international pariah status it held under the autocrat.

The country was removed from the United States’ state supporter of terror list in 2020, opening the door for badly needed foreign loans and investment.

There have been previous military coups in Sudan since it gained its independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956. Mr al-Bashir came to power in a 1989 military coup that removed the country’s last elected government.

In recent weeks, there have been concerns that the military might be planning a take over, and in fact there was a failed coup attempt in September.

Tensions only rose from there, as the country fractured along old lines, with more conservative Islamists who want a military government pitted against those who toppled al-Bashir in protests. In recent days, both camps have taken to the street in demonstrations.In recent weeks, the military has been emboldened in its dispute with civilian leaders by the support of tribal protesters, who blocked the country’s main Red Sea port for weeks.

The most two senior military officials, Burhan and his deputy Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, also have close ties with Egypt and the wealthy Gulf nations of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.