Sudan’s military has dissolved the country’s transitional government after detaining Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other senior officials in an apparent coup, only 30 months after former ruler Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by the army.
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, a military officer who headed the Sovereign Council, a power-sharing ruling body, announced a national state of emergency and dissolved the council and the transitional government, according to Reuters.
The Sudanese Ministry of Culture and Information said in a Facebook post that joint military forces had placed Hamdok under house arrest and pressured him to release a "pro-coup statement."
After refusing to "endorse the coup," Hamdok was moved to an unknown location, the ministry said.
It added that the military had also detained several top cabinet members and civilians sitting on the Transitional Sovereignty Council.
The ministry said Hamdok urged the Sudanese to "hold on to peace and occupy streets to defend their revolution."
The detention of Hamdok and other officials comes only a month after authorities said they had stopped a coup attempt by loyalists of long-time dictator Bashir.
Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and the city of Omdurman as news spread of the arrests on Monday morning. There have been reports of gunfire.
Local news channels showed burning tires in Khartoum and plumes of smoke filling the skies. Internet connections were cut and the military closed bridges, the information ministry said, adding that the army had stormed the offices of Sudan’s state-run broadcaster in Omdurman and detained several workers.
Some footage appeared to show protesters covered in blood, after being hurt in the demonstrations. Protesters could be heard chanting: "The people are stronger, stronger" and "retreat is not an option!" the Associated Press reported.
Sudan has been on a knife edge since last month’s failed coup plot unleashed bitter rivalries between military and civilian groups who were meant to be sharing power following the 2019 ouster of Bashir. The former president was toppled and arrested after months of protests, and a political transition was agreed to help the African country emerge from almost three decades of isolation under Bashir.
Under Hamdok and the Sudan’s transitional council, the country was starting to re-engage with the international community, and last year it was removed from the U.S. state supporters of terror list, paving the way for the African country to receive loans and international investment.
African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat demanded that Sudan’s political leaders be released and their human rights respected.
In a statement on Monday, Faki added that negotiations should be resumed between the military and the civilian wing of the transitional government.
Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, said Washington was "deeply alarmed" by the coup reports.
Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said on Monday that he was following the events in Sudan with the utmost concern.
"Following with utmost concern ongoing events in Sudan. The EU calls on all stakeholders and regional partners to put back on track the transition process," Borrell wrote on Twitter.
The United Nations said that the detention of Sudan’s civilian leaders including the premier was "unacceptable."