November 28, 2021

military coup, arrest of ministers and calls for civil disobedience

After weeks of tensions between the military and civilians who share power in Sudan since the dismissal of the autocrat Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Al-Bourhane, who was the head of the sovereignty council, the Sudanese transitional authority announced Monday (October 25th) that the army had arrested almost all of the civilian leaders.
Update on this coup, which greatly compromises the transition started after thirty years of dictatorship in this East African country.

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  • Arrests of ministers

Sudanese Army Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan speaks at a press conference at the General Command of the Armed Forces in Khartoum on October 26, 2021.

Monday morning, General Al-Bourhane dissolved the transitional authorities. Abdallah Hamdok, the prime minister, many of his ministers, their wives, and all civilian members of the Sovereignty Council, the highest authority in the transition, were arrested by the military.

Mr. Hamdok, whose release is demanded by the international community, “Find me”Al-Bourhane said on Tuesday. “Yes, we arrested ministers and politicians, but not all”, again launched the general in a long press conference where he justified all of his action. Mr. Hamdok, a former United Nations (UN) economist, is ” in good health ” and “Will return home when the crisis is over.”

In the wake of this press conference, the Prime Minister’s office called “The putschists” to free ” at once “ all those arrested, in a statement released by the Ministry of Information.

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  • The reasons for the coup

Sudanese protesters burn tires to block a road on 60th Street in the capital Khartoum, to denounce the army's overnight detention of members of the Sudanese government on October 25, 2021.

Since 2019 and the fall of Al-Bashir, power has been shared between the civilian government led by Mr. Hamdok and the sovereignty council responsible for leading the transition, but the coup comes amid heightened tensions between civilians and military.

The leadership of the Sovereignty Council was to be transferred to a civilian figure in the coming months and the military had so far affirmed their willingness to respect the transition process, but the exact date of this handover was not yet known. precisely. In addition, the transitional authorities were struggling to come to an agreement on the surrender of Al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court.

On October 16, army supporters pitched their tents in front of the presidential palace, where the transitional authorities are based. In response, on October 21, supporters of civil power took to the streets of the country by tens of thousands to ” to save “ their “Revolution”. Two days ago, the civilian camp warned against a “Rampant coup”, during a press conference that a small crowd had sought to prevent.

  • The international community worries, three ambassadors announce their defection

On Tuesday, three Sudanese ambassadors in Europe announced their defection, condemning the military coup of the day before and proclaiming their embassies as those of the “Sudanese people”, announced on Facebook the Ministry of Information. “We fully align ourselves with the heroic opposition followed by the whole world and proclaim the Sudanese embassies in France, Belgium and Switzerland as embassies of the Sudanese people and their revolution”, wrote Omar Béchir Maniss, Abderrahim Ahmed Khalil and Ali Ibn Abi Taleb Abderrahman Al-Gendi.

The international community has also expressed concern. For the troika in maneuver on the Sudanese issue for years, the United States, Great Britain and Norway, “The actions of the military betray the revolution and the transition” post-dictatorship after the fall in 2019 of the autocrat Omar Al-Bashir. In addition, Washington has “Suspended” assistance of 700 million dollars to Sudan as the prospect of the first free elections seems increasingly compromised.

For his part, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the immediate release of the ministers, deploring the « multiplication » of coups this year around the world. The “Important geopolitical divisions” which prevent “The Security Council to take strong measures”, the pandemic, economic and social difficulties mean that “Military leaders consider that they have total impunity, that they can do what they want because nothing will happen to them”, he said at a press conference. “I call on the great powers to come together for a unity of the Security Council in order to ensure that there is effective deterrence about this epidemic of coups d’état” which the world is witnessing in Asia or Africa, continued Antonio Guterres.

The 15 members of the UN Security Council are to meet urgently behind closed doors on Sudan from 10 p.m. (Paris time), at the request of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, from the United States, Estonia and France. Mexico, Kenya, Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, non-permanent members of the Council, supported this convocation. According to diplomats, the adoption of a declaration has been under negotiation since Monday, but it was not certain that Russia and China, in particular, will ratify its approval.

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  • Demonstrations and calls for civil disobedience

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets to condemn the military takeover in Khartoum, Sudan, Monday, October 25, 2021.

The center of the capital remains blocked by demonstrators with stones, improvising barricades and burning tires, while the security forces are deployed with their armored vehicles on bridges and main roads. The country’s lockdown continued on Tuesday afternoon, flights to and from Khartoum airport were suspended until Saturday. The airport, located in the city center, is only separated by a fence from the avenues bordering it.

In downtown Khartoum, won by the protest on Tuesday, twenty-four hours after the rest of the country, demonstrators call for the ” civil disobedience “ and at the ” general strike “. “No to military power”, “The revolution continues”, still chant the demonstrators under a swarm of Sudanese flags, responding to the call of unions spearheading the 2019 revolt.

Since Monday, at least four protesters have been killed by bullets “Drawn by the armed forces” according to a union of pro-democracy doctors, and more than eighty others injured.

Abdel Fattah Al-Bourhane

Born in 1960, Abdel Fattah Al-Bourhane is a pure product of the Sudanese army. After studying at the military academy, pursued abroad (especially in Egypt), he rose through the ranks to command the army, a key role when in 2015, Sudan joined the led coalition by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the war in Yemen. During the demonstrations against the power of Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, the former Sudanese dictator, General Al-Bourhane was seen as a solution to take the head of the civil-military transition, not having been marked as “Islamist”, and headed the Sovereignty Council, until the dissolution on Monday of all the authorities in place.

The World with AFP