Sudan transitional government says coup attempt has failed

Government officials blame the attempt on allies of the former President Omar al-Bashir, who was deposed in 2019.

Sudanese protesters gather outside the main entrance to the southern port in Port Sudan [File: Ibrahim Ishaq/AFP]

Sudanese authorities have reported a failed attempt to overthrow the country’s transitional government, blaming “military officers and civilians” from the former government of deposed President Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok addressed the attempted coup, which took place early on Tuesday, as “an extension of previous attempts” to overthrow the transitional government created after al-Bashir was removed from power in 2019 by the military follow months of mass protests against his rule.

“They tried to take advantage of the situation in different towns by closing the ports and the roads. They took advantage of the national crisis and tried to stop us from moving forward during this transitional period,” Hamdok said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Information Minister Hamza Baloul said military officers and civilians linked to al-Bashir had attempted a coup but were swiftly brought under control.

“We brought under control a coup attempt by military officers early Tuesday,” Baloul said.

Authorities “have arrested leaders of the failed plot, which involved military officers and civilians belonging to the defunct regime”, he added.

The military said “most” of those involved in the coup attempt had been arrested, including 11 officers.

“The army regained control over the sites that perpetrators sought to seize,” it said. “Searches and investigations are still ongoing for others involved.”

State television had aired patriotic songs as it announced the coup attempt and urged “the people to confront it”.

A government source told Al Jazeera that information about the coup attempt was made available to the government on Monday evening.

Reporting from Khartoum, Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said the capital woke up to “what seemed like a pretty normal morning”, except that one of the bridges leading to Omdurman, the twin city of the capital, was blocked.

“There were tanks on the bridge preventing civilians from crossing and there were questions from the people as to why there were tanks,” explained Morgan. “Then came the report that there was a failed coup attempt.”

She added that officials have said the coup targeted an army arms depot, and potentially aimed to take over state television, the army headquarters, as well as attempts to dismiss the Council of Ministers and Sovereignty Council that compose the country’s transitional government.

More specific details on the motive and who exactly were behind the coup were not available, and no political groups had claimed responsibility, Morgan added.

Traffic appeared to be flowing smoothly in central Khartoum on Tuesday, including around the army headquarters, where months of demonstrations prompted the removal of al-Bashir in April 2019.

The country is currently ruled by a transitional government composed of both civilian and military representatives that was installed in the aftermath of al-Bashir’s overthrow and is tasked with overseeing a return to full civilian rule.

Deep political divisions and chronic economic problems inherited from the al-Bashir era have overshadowed the transition.

Tensions between civilian and military have persisted, as have tensions between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, which operates under the auspices of the military.

Meanwhile, in recent months, the government has undertaken a series of tough economic reforms to qualify for debt relief from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The steps, which included slashing subsidies and a managed float of the Sudanese pound, were seen by many Sudanese as too harsh.

Sporadic protests have broken out against the IMF-backed reforms and the rising cost of living.

Later on Tuesday, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres condemned the coup attempt and called on Sudan to preserve the gains of its democratic transition.

“The secretary-general calls on all parties to remain committed to the transition and the realization of the aspirations of the Sudanese people for an inclusive, peaceful, stable and democratic future,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Waleed Madibo, founder and president of Sudan Policy Forum, told Al Jazeera that frustration with the Sudanese leadership has been mounting.

“The legislative body was supposed to be formulated three months after the revolution, now it has been three years and there aren’t any signals that the civilian component of the government is trying to formulate that body,” he added, speaking from Doha, Qatar.

“It seems that there is a total lack of leadership and a total lack of vision that can lead the country out of this quagmire,” said Madibo.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies