Two prominent Sudanese political figures who held top positions in the civilian administration before a military takeover in October have been arrested, their Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition said in a statement on Wednesday.
The arrests mark an extension of a crackdown on critics of the military and follow those of dozens of activists linked to a protest movement against the October 25 coup.
The two officials detained, Khalid Omer Yousif and Wagdi Salih, had previously been involved in a task force that seized property and fired bureaucrats linked to the regime of Omar al-Bashir, who fell to a popular uprising in 2019.
Yousif also served as a cabinet minister in a civilian government under a power-sharing agreement between the military and the FFC.
Across Sudan, some 105 people were being held without charges over political activity, most of them members of local resistance committees detained in Khartoum’s Soba prison, Samir Sheikh Idris, a spokesman for an activist lawyers’ group, told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
Some 2,000 people had been detained and released on bail in connection with demonstrations since the coup, Idris said.
Sudan’s public prosecutors’ office did not respond to a request for comment.
Lucy Tamlyn, the United States chargé d’affaires to Sudan, said in a Twitter post on Wednesday the “arbitrary arrests and detention of political figures, civil society activists and journalists undermine efforts to resolve Sudan’s political crisis”.
Arbitrary arrests and detention of political figures, civil society activists and journalists undermine efforts to resolve Sudan’s political crisis.
— Lucy Tamlyn (@USCDASudan) February 9, 2022
The upheaval in Sudan worsened last month following the resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was the civilian face of the transitional government during the past two years.
The prime minister, who was deposed in the October coup only to be reinstated a month later under heavy international pressure, stepped down on January 2 after his efforts to reach a compromise failed.
The country, which was already in the grip of a dire economic crisis before the coup, has seen vital foreign aid cut as part of the international community’s condemnation of the takeover.
Task force accused of overreach
Sources from Yousif’s Sudanese Congress Party said he was arrested from the party headquarters by security forces and taken to the North Khartoum police station.
Tweets from Salih’s account said he was taken to the same station and then Omdurman Prison, along with another member of the task force and was under investigation regarding a charge of “breach of trust”.
Earlier this week, a committee appointed by military leaders to review the work of the task force accused it of overreach.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, speaking from the capital, Khartoum, reported that the review committee had said many of the decisions were made by the taskforce without reaching a quorum of the committee members.
“It says many of the assets that were received from people, who were loyalists to al-Bashir’s regime, were not seized following due process and were not handed over to the Ministry of Finance as they should be,” she added.
Firings the taskforce had enacted in the central bank, judiciary and foreign ministry have since been reversed.
Thousands of Sudanese marched against military rule on Monday in Khartoum and other cities, with some saying they were concerned about the return to government of members of the deposed Bashir regime.
Medics aligned with the protest movement said at least 79 people have been killed as security forces have moved to break up protests with tear gas and gunfire. The military and the police say peaceful protests are allowed, and that casualties are being investigated.
Further demonstrations are planned for Thursday and Monday.
The United States, which suspended $700m in assistance to Sudan after the coup, has warned that a continued crackdown by the authorities would have “consequences”.