Protesters Block Roads in Sudan 10/26 06:10
CAIRO (AP) -- Pro-democracy protesters blocked roads in Sudan's capital with
makeshift barricades and burning tires Tuesday, a day after the military seized
power in a swift coup widely denounced by the international community.
The takeover came after weeks of mounting tensions between military and
civilian leaders over the course and the pace of Sudan's transition to
democracy. It threated to derail that process, which has progressed in fits and
starts since the overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular
uprising two years ago.
The United Nations Security Council was to discuss the situation in a
closed-door meeting later in the day.
Western governments and the U.N. condemned the coup and called for the
release of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other senior officials, who were
arrested Monday. U.S. President Joe Biden's administration announced the
suspension of $700 million in emergency assistance to Sudan, a nation in Africa
linked by language and culture to the Arab world.
Mariam al-Mahdi, the foreign minister in the government that the military
dissolved, was defiant Tuesday, declaring that she and other members of
Hamdok's administration remained the legitimate authority in Sudan.
"We are still in our positions. We reject such coup and such
unconstitutional measures," she told The Associated Press over the phone from
her home in Khartoum. "We will continue our peaceful disobedience and
Hours after the military arrested Hamdok, Sudanese flooded the streets of
the capital, Khartoum, and other cities in protest. At least four people were
killed and over 80 wounded when security forces opened fire on protesters,
according to the Sudan Doctors' Committee.
The country and the world are now braced to see if more violence will unfold
in the nation, which saw a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2019.
Some protesters remained in the streets of Khartoum and its twin city of
Omdurman on Tuesday morning, with many roads blocked. A bigger test of how the
military will respond to the resistance could come Saturday when protesters
plan a mass march to demand a return to civilian rule.
Troops from the military and the feared Rapid Support Forces patrolled
Khartoum neighborhoods overnight, chasing protesters. The international group
Human Rights Watch said forces used live ammunition against demonstrators.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for an immediate halt to
violence against protesters and for the restoration of internet services. He
said the U.S. was coordinating with partners to "chart a common diplomatic
approach to address these actions and to prevent them from leading to further
instability in Sudan and the region."
On Monday, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the top military official in Sudan,
dissolved the Hamdok government and the Sovereign Council, a joint military and
civilian body created soon after al-Bashir's ouster to run the country. He now
heads a military council that he said would rule Sudan until elections in July
Burhan blamed quarrels and divisions among political factions for the
military takeover. However, the coup comes less than a month before Burhan was
supposed to hand the leadership of the Sovereign Council to a civilian, a step
that would have decreased the military's hold on power. In recent weeks, he
repeatedly indicated he might not go through with that.
The general said he is serious about holding elections on schedule. But much
could happen in the coming 19 months, and it is not clear if the military will
be willing to release the grip it has had for decades.
Hamdok and others in the transitional government are still being held at a
military camp outside Khartoum. Al-Mahdi spoke to the wife of one of those
detained, Minister of Cabinet Affairs Khalid Omar, and said he was humiliated
and mistreated during his arrest.
"They (military forces) took Khalid barefoot, wearing only his
nightclothes," she said.
The Sudanese Professionals' Association, a group of unions which was behind
the uprising against al-Bashir, urged people to go on strike and engage in
civil disobedience. Separately, the Sudan Popular Liberation Movement--North,
the country's main rebel group, denounced the coup and called for people to
take to the streets.