Sudan General defends power grab

Burhan says Army ousted the govt. to avoid civil war; PM detained at his home

Published - October 26, 2021 10:30 pm IST - KHARTOUM

Speaking at his first news conference since he announced the takeover on Monday, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan accused politicians of incitement against the armed forces. File

Speaking at his first news conference since he announced the takeover on Monday, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan accused politicians of incitement against the armed forces. File

Sudan’s top General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan defended the Army’s seizure of power on Tuesday, saying he had ousted the government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to avoid civil war.

Speaking at his first news conference since he announced the takeover on Monday, Gen. Burhan accused politicians of incitement against the armed forces. He said Mr. Hamdok was confined in his own home and had not been harmed.

Soldiers arrested the Prime Minister and other members of his Cabinet on Monday, hours before Gen. Burhan appeared on TV to announce the dissolution of the Sovereign Council, a body set up to share power between the military and civilians.

“The whole country was deadlocked due to political rivalries,” Gen. Burhan said on Tuesday. “The experience during the past two years has proven that the participation of political forces in the transitional period is flawed and stirs up strife.”

Monday’s military takeover brought a halt to Sudan’s transition to democracy two years after a popular uprising toppled long-serving autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Seven killed

An official at the Health Ministry said seven people were killed in clashes between protesters and the security forces on Monday. On Tuesday, life was halted in Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman across the Nile, with shops shut and plumes of smoke rising from where protesters were burning tyres.

Gen. Burhan said the military’s action did not amount to a coup, as the Army was trying to rectify the path of the political transition.

Shortly after Gen. Burhan spoke, Mr. Hamdok’s office issued a statement, voicing concerns about the safety of the premier and other detained officials. It did not say where the politician was being held.

The statement accused the military leaders of acting in concert with Islamists, who have argued for a military government, and other politicians linked to al-Bashir’s National Congress Party, which was dissolved in 2019.

Western governments and the UN have condemned the coup and called for the release of Mr. Hamdok and other senior officials. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration announced the suspension of $700 million in emergency assistance to Sudan.

Mariam al-Mahdi, the Foreign Minister in the government that the military dissolved, was defiant on Tuesday, declaring that she and other members of Mr. Hamdok’s administration remained the legitimate authority in Sudan.

“We are still in our positions. We reject such coup and such unconstitutional measures,” she said. “We will continue our peaceful disobedience and resistance.”

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.

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