Sudan’s military detained the prime minister and other civilian leaders on Monday and declared a state of emergency in a coup that endangered the country’s fragile transition from authoritarian rule to democracy.
Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, speaking at a news conference on Monday afternoon, said the military had taken control of the government and dissolved a governing council that included civilian members. He said that the military would rule until elections are held in 2023.
General al-Burhan’s remarks capped a dramatic morning of rapidly evolving events, starting with the sudden disappearance of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The information ministry released a statement saying the military had kidnapped Mr. Hamdok and his wife and confirming that a coup attempt was underway.
The same ministry said in a Facebook post earlier on Monday that the military forces had placed Mr. Hamdok under house arrest and pressured him to release a “pro-coup statement.” After refusing to “endorse the coup,” the ministry said, Mr. Hamdok was then moved to an unknown location.
It said the military had also detained several top cabinet members as well as civilian members of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, the governing body made up of civilian and military leaders that General al-Burhan said he was dissolving. The Council was supposed to prepare the country for democratic elections in 2022.
As news of the arrests spread, protesters filled the streets of the capital, Khartoum. Television broadcasts showed people burning tires, with plumes of smoke filling the skies. The information ministry said that internet connections had been cut and that the military had closed bridges.
The East African nation has been shaken by political uncertainty and fears of a coup for months now, as the shared power arrangement between military and civilian leaders has shown increasing signs of strain. Pro-military protesters have called for the dissolution of the transitional government, while pro-democracy demonstrators have said such a step would be tantamount to a takeover.
The army chief of staff had been expected to hand over leadership of the cabinet to Mr. Hamdok in November, giving him a largely ceremonial post that would have signified full civilian control of Sudan for the first time in decades.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, the country’s main pro-democratic political group, warned Monday on social media that the military was preparing to seize power. The association urged citizens to take to the streets.
“The revolution is a revolution of the people,” the group, which is made up of doctors, engineers and lawyers, said in a Facebook post. “Power and wealth belongs to the people. No to a military coup.”
After the detentions on Monday, state television broadcast patriotic songs.
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