According to local television reports, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok is under house arrest in connection with a military coup.
Citing family sources, Reuters reported that military stormed the prime minister’s residence early Monday morning. Four cabinet ministers and one civilian member of the ruling sovereign council were also arrested, Al-Hadath TV reported.
Hamdock, an economist and diplomat who worked at the UN, was named interim prime minister of the country in August 2019. He heads the interim government that came to power after the ouster of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was arrested during massive street protests. The country is preparing for elections late next year, and Hamdoku is constitutionally banned from running.
But Hamdock faced fierce opposition from the country’s military. On September 21, forces loyal to al-Bashir blocked the key bridge with tanks and tried to seize power. The coup was suppressed and dozens of soldiers were arrested.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets last week to express concern at the prospect of a return to military rule. “This country is ours, and we have a civil government,” the protesters chanted.
The Association of Sudanese Professionals, an organization made up of trade unions that play an important role in organizing the protests, called on the public on Monday to come out and take the streets to defend the transitional government.
“This is a major blow to the democratic experiment in Sudan,” said Cameron Hudson, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Africa Center, expert on Sudan and former White House director for Africa.
The apparent attempted coup d’état came a day after Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman concluded two-day meetings in Sudan to highlight US support for Sudanese democracy.
Hudson said Feldman received assurances from military leaders that they are committed to the work of the transitional government.
“The US has invested in Sudan more diplomatically than anywhere else in the world, trying to prove that countries can move from autocracy to democracy,” Hudson told Voice of America. “This is a setback for the transitions in Chad, Mali and Guinea, where the stakes are high, but which have not received nearly the same diplomatic attention from the US as Sudan.”