At least seven people died in gunshot wounds while 140 were injured during Monday’s protests against a military coup that overturned the transition to civilian rule, a Ministry of Health official was quoted as saying.
The Sudanese military seized power on Monday, dissolving the transitional government hours after troops arrested the prime minister. Thousands of people flooded the streets to protest the coup, which threatens the country’s shaky progress toward democracy.
The takeover comes more than two years after protesters forced the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and just weeks before the military would hand over the leadership of the council that governs the country to civilians.
The leader of the coup, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, dissolved the military-civilian sovereign council that had been set up to guide the country to democracy.
General al-Burhan announced a state of emergency and said the armed forces needed to protect security and safety, but he promised to hold elections in July 2023 and hand over to an elected civilian government then.
Young people who opposed the coup blocked the streets when it broke out against troops.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist and former high-ranking UN official, was detained and taken to a secret location after refusing to issue a statement in support of the coup, the information ministry said.
The ministry, which remains loyal to Hamdok, called for resistance, saying tens of thousands of people who opposed the takeover had taken to the streets and met gunfire near the military headquarters in Khartoum. Central bank employees announced a strike to reject the coup, the ministry said.
Troops had arrested civilian members of the sovereign council and government figures, the ministry said, adding: “We are raising our voices loudly to reject this coup attempt.”
The state television news director was also detained, his family said.
The U.S. State Department said Washington has nothing to share about Hamdok’s whereabouts and condition. A ministry spokesman said it was pausing $ 700 million in financial aid to Sudan.
In Khartoum’s left-wing Omdurman, protesters barricaded streets and chanted in support of civilian rule.
“Burhan can not deceive us. This is a military coup,” said a young man who gave his name as Saleh.
“Raise our voices”
Sudan has been ruled for most of its postcolonial history by military leaders who seized power in coups. It had become a pariah to the west and was on a US terrorist list under al-Bashir, which hosted Osama bin Laden in the 1990s and is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes.
The country had been on edge since last month when a failed coup plot, blamed on al-Bashir supporters, sparked accusations between the military and civilians.
In recent weeks, a coalition of rebel groups and political parties has joined the military and called on it to dissolve the civilian government, while ministers took part in protests against the prospect of military rule.
Sudan is also in an economic crisis. With the help of foreign aid, civil servants have claimed credit for some tentative signs of stabilization following a sharp devaluation of the currency and the abolition of fuel subsidies.
Washington had tried to prevent the collapse of the power-sharing agreement by sending a special envoy, Jeffrey Feltman. The director of Hamdok’s office, Adam Hereika, was quoted by Reuters as saying that the military had taken up power despite “positive movements” against an agreement following meetings with Feltman in recent days.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said: “We reject the military’s actions and demand that the Prime Minister and others who have been placed under house arrest be released immediately.”
The military takeover will have lasting consequences on Sudan’s relations with the United States and it should change course immediately, said Senate Foreign Policy President Bob Menendez.
The military was to hand over the leadership of the sovereign council to a civilian figure in the coming months. But the transitional authorities had struggled to move forward on issues such as handing over al-Bashir to The Hague.
Al-Burhan said it was the responsibility of the armed forces to act to stop “incitement to chaos and violence”.
The UN, the Arab League and the African Union (AU) all expressed concern. Political leaders should be released and human rights respected, said AU Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat in a statement.
Britain called the coup an unacceptable betrayal of the Sudanese people. France demanded the immediate release of Hamdok and other civilian leaders. Egypt urged all parties to exercise self-control.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an activist coalition in the uprising against al-Bashir, called for a strike.
Burhan’s “ruthless decisions will increase the cruelty of street resistance and unity after all illusions of partnership have been removed,” it said on its Facebook page.
The main opposition alliance, the Forces of Freedom and Change, demanded civil disobedience and protests across the country.
Two major political parties, the Ummah and the Sudanese Congress, condemned what they called a coup and arrest campaign.
Hamdok was appointed a technocratic prime minister in 2019 but fought to maintain the transition in the midst of the split between the military and civilians and the pressure of the economic crisis.