Speed Reads

Coup alert

Sudan civilian leaders arrested in apparent military coup

Top members of Sudan's civilian government were arrested Monday in an apparent coup following weeks between the military and civilian leaders they are supposed to be sharing power with during a rocky democratic transition period. At least four Cabinet ministers are reported to have been arrested by the military. Sudan's information ministry said Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been placed under house arrest. The internet is reportedly down in Khartoum, the capital, and much of the rest of Sudan.

Tensions between the military and civilian government increased dramatically after a failed coup attempt in September. After pro-democracy protests led to the toppling and arrest of longtime autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019, the military and a civilian council agreed to lead the country until elections in 2023. The last couple of weeks have seen rival protests by supporters of the civilian government and more-conservative Islamist protesters who favor a military government.

A U.S. envoy, Jeffrey Feltman, met with Sudanese military and civilian leaders Saturday and Sunday to try and resolve the dispute. Feltman said in a statement Monday morning that "the U.S. is deeply alarmed at reports of a military takeover of the transitional government," which "would contravene the Constitutional Declaration and the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people and is utterly unacceptable."

Other government officials reported to have been arrested include Information Minister Hamza Baloul, Industry Minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh, transitional Sovereign Council member Mohammed al-Fiky Suliman, and Faisal Mohammed Saleh, a media adviser to Hamdok. Ayman Khalid, the governor of the state containing Kharotum, has also reportedly been arrested. 

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a main group behind the anti-Bashir uprising, urged "the masses to go out on the streets and occupy them, close all roads with barricades, stage a general labor strike, and not to cooperate with the putschists and use civil disobedience to confront them." The military and paramilitary forces have deployed across Khartoum, restricting the movements of civilians, Reuters reports, and the Khartoum airport has been closed.