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Coup general says Sudan's PM detained for his own safety

PM detained for own safety

Sudan’s ruling general suggested Tuesday that some members of the government he dissolved in a coup could face trial but said that the deposed prime minister was being held for his own safety and would likely be released soon.

A day after the military seized power in a move widely denounced by the international community, pro-democracy protesters took to the streets again, blocking roads in the capital with makeshift barricades and burning tires.

The takeover came after weeks of mounting tensions between military and civilian leaders over the course and the pace of Sudan’s transition to democracy. It threated to derail that process, which has progressed in fits and starts since the overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago.

The United Nations Security Council was to discuss the situation in Sudan, a nation in Africa linked by language and culture to the Arab world, at a closed-door meeting later in the day.

In his second public appearance since seizing power, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan said Tuesday that the military was forced to step in to resolve a growing political crisis that he alleged could have led to civil war.

“The whole country was deadlocked due to political rivalries,” he told a televised news conference. “The experience during the past two years has proven that the participation of political forces in the transitional period is flawed and stirs up strife.”

Of the slew of senior government officials detained in Monday's coup, some tried to incite a rebellion within the armed forces, Burhan alleged, saying they would face trial. Others who are found “innocent” would be freed, he said.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was being held at Burhan's home, the general said, and was in good health. He added that the politician would be released “today or tomorrow.”

But shortly after Burhan spoke, Hamdok’s office issued a statement, voicing concerns about the safety of the premier and other detained officials. It did not say where the politician was being held.

The statement accused the military leaders of acting in concert with Islamists, who have argued for a military government, and other politicians linked to al-Bashir’s National Congress Party, which was dissolved in 2019.

Western governments and the U.N. have condemned the coup and called for the release of Hamdok and other senior officials. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration announced the suspension of $700 million in emergency assistance to Sudan.

Mariam al-Mahdi, the foreign minister in the government that the military dissolved, was defiant Tuesday, declaring that she and other members of Hamdok's administration remained the legitimate authority in Sudan.

“We are still in our positions. We reject such coup and such unconstitutional measures,” she told The Associated Press over the phone from her home in Khartoum. “We will continue our peaceful disobedience and resistance.”

Sudan’s Ministry of Culture and Information, which remains loyal to the deposed government, said in a Facebook post Tuesday that three of the country’s ambassadors abroad have defected.

Al-Mahdi, meanwhile, spoke to the wife of one of the officials detained, Minister of Cabinet Affairs Khalid Omar, and said he was humiliated and mistreated during his arrest.

“They (military forces) took Khalid barefoot, wearing only his nightclothes,” she said.

Hours after the arrests, Sudanese flooded the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and other cities in protest. At least four people were killed and over 80 wounded when security forces opened fire on protesters, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Committee.



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