Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is under house arrest in what appears to be a military coup, according to local TV reports.
Citing family sources, Reuters reported that a military force stormed the prime minister’s residence early Monday. Four cabinet ministers and one civilian member of the ruling sovereign council also were arrested, Al-Hadath TV reported.
Hamdok, an economist and diplomat who has worked for the U.N., was named the country’s transitional prime minister in August 2019. He leads an interim government that 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.
But Hamdok has faced stiff resistance from elements of the country’s military. On September 21, forces loyal to al-Bashir used tanks to block a key bridge and attempted to seize power. The coup was put down and dozens of soldiers were arrested.
Last week, thousands of protesters took to the streets to voice concern about the prospect of a return to military rule. “This country is ours, and our government is civilian,” protesters chanted.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an organization made up of trade unions instrumental in organizing the protests, called on the public Monday to go out and occupy the streets to protect the transitional government.
“It is a major blow to the democratic experiment in Sudan,” said Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, an expert on Sudan and former White House Africa director.
The apparent coup attempt comes a day after Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman concluded two days of meetings in Sudan to underscore U.S. support for Sudanese democracy.
Hudson said Feldman received assurances from military leaders that they were committed to the work of the transitional government.
“The U.S. has invested more diplomatically in Sudan than almost anywhere else in the world in trying to prove that countries can move from autocracy to democracy,” Hudson told VOA. “This is a setback to transitions in Chad, Mali, and Guinea where the stakes are high, but which had not received nearly as much U.S. diplomatic attention as Sudan.”