United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the “immediate” release of Sudan’s detained leaders following an apparent military coup.
“There must be full respect for the constitutional charter to protect the hard-won political transition,” Guterres wrote on Twitter, referencing the landmark power-sharing agreement that Sudan’s military and civilian leaders signed in 2019 after months of deadly protests.
His remarks came as military forces Monday arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other officials. Lt. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan also declared a state of emergency and announced the dissolution of a joint civilian-military council, known as the Sovereign Council, that has run the country for the past two years.
In a lengthier statement issued through a spokesperson, U.N chief Guterres said, “Sudanese stakeholders must immediately return to dialogue, and engage in good faith to restore the constitutional order and Sudan’s transitional process.”
White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking on Air Force One, said the United States is deeply alarmed at the reports of the military takeover.
“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 actions today are in stark opposition to the will of the Sudanese people and their aspirations for peace, liberty and justice,” she said.
“The United States continues to strongly support the Sudanese people’s demand for a democratic transition in Sudan and will continue to evaluate how best to help the Sudanese people achieve this goal,” Jean-Pierre added.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, a group consisting of trade unions, called on the public Monday to occupy the streets to protect the transitional government. The association was instrumental in organizing protests that led to the 2019 deal.
Separately, the Arab League and Egypt echoed remarks calling for political agreements to be upheld, as did the African Union.
“The Chairperson calls for the immediate resumption of consultations between civilians and military … The Chairperson reaffirms that dialogue and consensus is the only relevant path to save the country and its democratic transition,” African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement.
Detained Prime Minister Hamdok, an economist and diplomat who has worked for the U.N., was named the transitional prime minister in August 2019. The interim government took power following the ouster of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was arrested during widespread street protests. The country is preparing for elections late next year and, under the constitution, Hamdok is forbidden from running.