Members of Sudan’s cabinet and other senior politicians have been arrested by soldiers in an apparent military coup, witnesses said, as the armed forces were deployed across the country’s capital Khartoum.
Faisal Mohamed Salih, a former minister and an adviser to the prime minister Abdalla Hamdok, has been arrested along with the ruling sovereign council member Mohamed al-Faki Soleiman, reported Reuters.
There were unconfirmed reports that Mr Hamdok had also been detained. The government’s information ministry said he was being pressured by the military to give a public statement in support of the coup.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, a pro-democracy group, has called for a general strike in response to what it described as an unfolding “military coup”.
“We urge the masses to go out on the streets and occupy them, close all roads with barricades, stage a general labour strike, and not to cooperate with putschists and use civil disobedience to confront them,” the group said in a statement.
Heavily armed Sudanese army and paramilitary forces were deployed across the capital restricting civilian movements, as protesters carrying national flags burned tyres in different areas of the city.
Khartoum’s main airport has also been shut and international flights suspended, reported the Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV channel.
Apart from Mr Salih and Mr Soleiman, industry minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh and information minister Hamza Baloul have also been detained. Ayman Khalid, governor of the state containing the capital Khartoum, was also arrested.
A possible military takeover would be a major setback for Sudan, which has been grappling with a transition to democracy since long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir was overthrown following mass protests in 2019.
A coup was also attempted in September, amid rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders who have been governing in a power-sharing agreement since Bashir was toppled. Earlier this month protests were staged by opponents of Sudan’s transition to democracy, demanding the army take over the country.
The development also came after a meeting between the US’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman and Sudanese military and civilian leaders on Saturday and Sunday in efforts to resolve the dispute.
Issuing a statement, Mr Feltman said that “the US is deeply alarmed at reports of a military take-over of the transitional government”.
“This would contravene the Constitutional Declaration and the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people and is utterly unacceptable,” he added
Meanwhile, NetBlocks, an internet monitoring organisation, said in a statement that there has been “significant disruption to internet services” in the country, “affecting cellular and some fixed-line connectivity on multiple providers”.
“The disruption is likely to limit the free flow of information online and news coverage of incidents on the ground,” it added.
— William Carter (@WillCarter_NRC) October 25, 2021