Sudan’s military seized power from a transitional government yesterday and soldiers killed at least three people and wounded 80 as street protests broke out against the coup.
The leader of the takeover, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, dissolved the military-civilian Sovereign Council that had been set up to guide the country to democracy following the overthrow of long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago.
Burhan announced a state of emergency, saying the armed forces needed to protect safety and security, but he promised to hold elections in July 2023 and hand over to an elected civilian government then.
“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,” he said.
Youths opposed to the coup barricaded streets as clashes broke out with troops.
The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said three people had died of wounds after being shot by soldiers and at least 80 people had been injured.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was detained and taken to an undisclosed location after refusing to issue a statement in support of the takeover, the information ministry said.
The ministry, still loyal to Hamdok, urged resistance and said tens of thousands of people opposed to the takeover had taken to the streets and had faced gunfire near the military headquarters in Khartoum.
Troops had arrested civilian members of the Sovereign Council and government figures, it said, called on Sudanese to oppose the military.
“We raise our voices loudly to reject this coup attempt,” it said in a statement.
In Khartoum’s twin city Omdurman, protesters barricaded streets and chanted in support of civilian rule.
“Burhan cannot deceive us. This is a military coup,” said a young man who gave his name as Saleh.
Sudan has been ruled for most of its post-colonial history by military leaders who seized power in coups.
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.
White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre 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.”
The United Nations, Arab League and African Union all expressed concern.
Political leaders should be released and human rights respected, AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement.
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.
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