Sudan arrests dozens after failed coup attempt

Plot hatched by members of military and civilians loyal to ousted leader Omar al-Bashir, authorities say

Celine Wadhera
Wednesday 22 September 2021 00:03 BST
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok addressing the cabinet meeting broadcast on state-run TV
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok addressing the cabinet meeting broadcast on state-run TV (Sudan TV/AFP via Getty Images)

Following a failed coup attempt, Sudanese authorities have arrested dozens of people loyal to former president Omar al-Bashirfor trying to undermine the transitional government that has been in place since his ouster in 2019.

At least 21 officers and a number of soldiers were arrested in connection with the plot, alongside civilians who remained loyal to the former leader.

Early on Tuesday morning, a witness reported that government forces used tanks to close a bridge that connected Khartoum with its sister city Omduran, which lies just across the Nile River.

A government source told Reuters that plotters had attempted to take control of the state radio station in Omduran.

A source inside the government told Al Jazeera that Sudanese authorities had uncovered information about the plot on Monday evening, which helped the government prepare and respond effectively.

In a televised statement, the prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, blamed the attempt on a handful of people trying to sow insecurity across the country, particularly in the eastern regions.

“What happened is an orchestrated coup by factions inside and outside the armed forces and this is an extension of the attempts by remnants since the fall of the former regime to abort the civilian democratic transition,” he said.

“This attempt was preceded by extensive preparations represented by lawlessness in the cities and the exploitation of the situation in the east of the country.

“They tried to take advantage of the situation in different towns by closing the ports and the roads.”

He added that there had been foiled coup attempts in the past, but this was the first time that arrests have been made, assuring the public that those who were involved in Tuesday’s attempt would be held to account.

Hamza Balol, a spokesperson for the Sudanese government said on state TV that those who had been arrested were currently being interrogated. He added that the remnants of the rebellion were at the Al Shajara camp in south Khartoum, and were being dealt with.

Upon visiting the camp on Tuesday, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s stop military leader, said the coup could have had “catastrophic consequences on the unity of the army the military and the country”.

He added: “We want to take this country and hand it over to the public will, to free and fair elections.”

Sudan has been led by the Sovereign Council since 2019, when former autocratic president Omar Al-Bashir was ousted after months of popular protests.

Mr Al-Bashir, an Islamist, had ruled the country since rising to power in a military coup in 1989. He is currently sought by the International Criminal Court over allegations of atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region in the early 2000s.

While the Sovereign Council has popular support, and support of Western governments, notably the United States, Britain and Norway, it faces an uphill battle. The country’s economy is in turmoil and has been struggling for years with rampant inflation, high unemployment and poverty rates. A national election is expected in 2024.

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