Military forces have arrested Sudan’s acting prime minister and senior government officials, disrupted internet access and blocked bridges in the capital, Khartoum, the country’s information ministry said, describing the actions as a coup.
In response, thousands flooded the streets of Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman to protest against the apparent military takeover on Monday. Footage shared online appeared to show protesters blocking streets and setting fire to tyres as security forces used tear gas to disperse them.
Protesters could be heard chanting, “The people are stronger, stronger” and “Retreat is not an option!” as plumes of smoke from burning tyres filled the air.
The first reports about a possible military takeover began trickling out of Sudan before dawn. By mid-morning, the information ministry confirmed that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok had been arrested and taken to an undisclosed location. Several senior government figures were also arrested, the ministry said in a Facebook post. It said their whereabouts were unknown.
In other hallmarks of a takeover, internet access was widely disrupted and the country’s state news channel played patriotic traditional music. At one point, military forces stormed the offices of Sudan’s state-run television in Omdurman and detained a number of workers, the information ministry said.
The apparent coup attempt came after weeks of rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders. A failed coup attempt in September fractured the country along old lines, pitting more conservative protesters who want a military government against those who toppled longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019. In recent days, both camps have taken to the street in demonstrations.
After news of the arrests spread, the country’s main pro-democracy group and the Sudanese Communist Party issued separate appeals for Sudanese to take to the streets.
Separately, the Communist Party called on workers to go on strike in an act of mass civil disobedience after what it described as a “full military coup” orchestrated by the Sovereign Council’s head General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan.