As it happened: African Union suspends Sudan after coup, security forces tighten grip

Sudanese security forces launched sweeping arrests of anti-coup protesters on Wednesday, tightening the regime's grip despite the country’s suspension from the African Union (AU) over this week’s military takeover.

People walk on a street in Khartoum, Sudan, two days after a military coup, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.
People walk on a street in Khartoum, Sudan, two days after a military coup, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. AP - Marwan Ali

Three prominent Sudanese pro-democracy figures were detained overnight, their relatives and other activists said Wednesday, as internal and international pressure mounted on the country's military to walk back its coup.

The arrests came as protests denouncing Monday's military takeover continued in the capital of Khartoum and elsewhere, and many businesses shut in response to calls for strikes. Security forces kept up their heavy-handed response, despite mounting international pressure on the military.

The AU on Wednesday rejected the military takeover as an "unconstitutional" seizure of power, and suspended Sudan from the bloc.

The World Bank later suspended aid to the East African country over the coup.

Beyond the capital, protesters have stood their ground to decry the country's latest military coup, setting up blockades in Port Sudan in the east, Wad Madani to the south, and Atbara to the north.

Since top General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Monday announced the dissolution of the government and declared a state of emergency, thousands of citizens have maintained protests, chanting "No to military rule".

Shops have remained closed following calls for a campaign of civil disobedience, and pro-democracy movements ratcheted up calls for "million-strong protests" on Saturday.

The coup came less than a month before Burhan was supposed to hand the leadership of the Sovereign Council that runs the country to a civilian – a step that would have decreased the military’s hold on power.

21:00 Paris time

Western envoys met with released Sudanese PM

Ambassadors from France, Germany, Norway, the UK, US, EU and the UN met with Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok at his residence, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission Sudan (UNITAMS) wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

The mission added that the envoys found Hamdok in good health.

Hamdok and his wife were detained when the military seized power early Monday and were released late Tuesday following international calls for his release. 

The prime minister remained committed to a democratic transition to civilian rule and warned that any retreat from the democratic path was a threat to the stability, security and development of Sudan, a source close to Hamdok told Reuters.

14:26 Paris time

World Bank suspends aid after coup

The World Bank has suspended aid to Sudan following the military takeover.

"I am greatly concerned by recent events in Sudan, and I fear the dramatic impact this can have on the country's social and economic recovery and development," World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement.

13:40 Paris time

AU suspends Sudan's participation

The African Union has suspended Sudan's participation in all activities until the restoration of the civilian-led authority, the organisation said in a communique.

10:15 Paris time

Khartoum airport reopens

Sudan will reopen Khartoum airport to all inbound and outbound flights on Wednesday, the head of civil aviation said.

9:55 Paris time

Security forces arrest three pro-democracy actists

Sudanese security forces detained three prominent pro-democracy figures in the capital Khartoum, family members and activists said Wednesday. 

The activists taken overnight were Ismail al-Taj, a leader of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, the group at the forefront of the protests that brought down al-Bashir; Sediq al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, a leader in Sudan’s largest political party, known as Umma and brother of Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi; and Khalid al-Silaik, a former media adviser to the prime minister.

The three have been outspoken critics of the military takeover and have called for protests against the move. 

01:30 Paris time 

Blinken speaks to Sudan's PM

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok late on Tuesday and welcomed his release from custody, the U.S. State Department said.

Blinken reiterated his call on Sudanese military forces to release all civilian leaders in detention, the State Department said in a statement.

23.30 Paris time

UN Security Council meets on Sudan

The UN Security Council met behind closed doors at 2000 GMT after Western powers, supported by their African counterparts, demanded the meeting.

Diplomats said members expressed concern about the volatile situation and indicated that negotiations about issuing a joint declaration were continuing.

A text could be adopted Tuesday evening or Wednesday, said one diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Unlike a first draft, it would no longer refer to denouncing the coup "in the strongest terms" but retains a condemnation of the putsch, said another diplomat.

It remains to be seen whether Russia and China -- permanent members with veto power -- will support the phrasing.

Before the meeting, Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's deputy ambassador to the UN, said the council "should appeal to stop the violence from all sides."

"That's the most important thing. Violence is unacceptable from all sides. Let's work on some document and then we'll see what we agree on. We are all preoccupied with what's happening in Sudan," he added.

21:00 Paris time

PM returns home

Detained Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and his wife were allowed to return to their home in Khartoum, military sources told AP and AFP.

20:45 Paris time

'Hope for condemnation' of coup at UN Security Council

“The hope is that this meeting will lead to a joint condemnation of the military coup,” said FRANCE 24's New York correspondent Jessica Le Masurier, who is at the UN. “The UK is the penholder on Sudan and is working on a statement. But it’s working with China and Russia. In the past, these two powers have blocked statements on Sudan.”

20:00 Paris time

EU threatens sanctions

The European Union threatened Tuesday to suspend financial support for Sudan if the military does not immediately return the civilian government to power.

"This attempt to undermine Sudan's transition to democracy is unacceptable. If the situation is not reversed immediately, there will be serious consequences for the EU's commitment, including its financial support," EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell warned in a statement.

The EU could also impose targeted sanctions against those behind the coup, notably Sudan's top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan whose junta is accused of detaining Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

19:00 Paris time

Ambassadors say they reject coup

Sudanese ambassadors to 12 countries, including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, China, and France, have rejected Monday's military takeover, a diplomatic source told Reuters.

Ambassadors to Belgium and the European Union, Geneva and UN agencies, China, South Africa, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, Sweden and Canada also signed on to the statement, which said the ambassadors were taking the side of the people's resistance to the coup.

18:00 Paris time

Flights suspended until Saturday

Sudan's civil aviation authority suspended all flights to and from Khartoum International Airport until October 30, the airport said.

The head of the civil aviation authority told Reuters that the suspension was due to the current events in the country.

Ibrahim Adlan said Sudanese airspace remains open to passing flights.

17:45 Paris time

Sudan coup is 'not the African way', Malawi's president says

In an interview with FRANCE 24, Lazarus Chakwera, the president of Malawi and chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), condemned Monday's military coup in Sudan, stressing that this was "not the African way" to deal with differences. He regretted that such coups were back in fashion "in some parts" of the continent, but pointed to the recent elections in Zambia and in his country as examples of democratic progress. 

16:00 Paris time

UN chief calls for PM's 'immediate' release

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Tuesday for the immediate release of Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

He "must be released immediately", Guterres said as the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on the putsch in Sudan.

On Monday soldiers detained Hamdok, his ministers and civilian members of Sudan's ruling council, who have been heading a transition to full civilian rule following the 2019 overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

15:45 Paris time

PM's office says PM must be freed

Sudan's prime minister's office called on Tuesday for the release of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and others who are detained with him.

The office said that Hamdok remains "the executive authority recognised by the Sudanese people and the world", the office said on its Facebook page.

It added that there was no alternative other than protests, strikes and civil disobedience.

15:30 Paris time

Burhan ‘likely to be worried about money'

“There’s been little comment from General Burhan on how international bodies have reacted,” noted FRANCE 24 International Affairs Editor Angela Diffley. “The UN Security Council is of course meeting today, so there will be an occasion for more comments on what’s happened.”

Burhan “might not be so worried about comments” about the coup from the international community, Diffley continued, “but he is very likely to be worried about money; we saw there that the United States has already paused several million dollars’ worth of aid intended for energy and food sectors in Sudan”.

“It’s likely that other countries will do the same – and this Sudan is in a very difficult situation economically; just before inflation was running as high as 400 percent,” Diffley added. “There was a lot of disquiet about the government having to fund fuel subsidies that caused serious annoyance among the Sudanese people.

“It’s worth noting that Burhan said [the military] need the help of the Sudanese people, but it doesn’t look like the enormous number of people on the streets opposing the coup take that very seriously.”

14:20 Paris time

Top general says PM is ‘at my home’

Sudan's top general said on Tuesday that the country's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was "at my home" a day after his reported detention by soldiers during the coup.

"We arrested ministers and politicians, but not all" of them, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan told a news conference in Khartoum, adding that Hamdok was "in good health" and would "return home when the crisis is over".

13:50 Paris time

‘This African incident is not welcome at all’

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwena joined the chorus of world leaders condemning Monday’s military coup.

In an interview with FRANCE 24, Chakwena said it was “very unfortunate that such events are occurring” in this day and age. “There’s been coup attempts across the world, this African incident is not welcome at all because it’s not the manner in which Africans deal with issues when there is disagreement,” said Chakwena. “The African way is always dialogue. It’s always contact, it’s always to sit down and find solutions.”


13:33 Paris time

Sudanese ambassadors in three European capitals defect

Three Sudanese ambassadors in Europe announced their defection Tuesday, condemning the military coup in their country and declaring their embassies as belonging to the "Sudanese people", the information ministry said.

"We completely align ourselves with the heroic opposition (to the coup) followed by the entire world," the envoys to France, Belgium and Switzerland said, declaring their missions as "embassies of the Sudanese people and their revolution".

11:30 Paris time

Trade union committees dissolved, say reports

Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Tuesday issued a decree dissolving the committees managing the country's trade unions, according to Dubai-based TV channels Sky News Arabia and Al-Hadath.

The managing committees played a vital role in the 2019 protest movement, which led to the formation of a military-civilian transitional administration that was dissolved on Monday.

09:45 Paris time

Russia warns against international ‘interference’ in Sudan

Russia has said that external interference could exacerbate the situation in Sudan following the military takeover.

As the international community has called for detained Prime Minister Hamdock and other Sudanese officials to be released, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week criticised the “shortcomings” of the transitional civilian government.

“Russia has a very different attitude from the US and other international players in this situation. The Russians have significant interests in Sudan,” explained FRANCE 24’s Nick Holdsworth, reporting from Moscow.

These include uranium, gold and oil mining and a naval logistics base on the Red Sea coast. The Russian private military Wagner Group have also reportedly been operating in the Sudan.

08:58 Paris time

Telecommunications down, internet services limited

Telecommunications were interrupted in Sudan a day after the country’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, declared a state of emergency following Monday’s military takeover.

There was no official confirmation of the communications interruption. Internet and phone services inside the country were severely limited, according to activists.

Life is at a standstill in the capital Khartoum, where shops and services are closed and some roads are still blocked by the military after a mostly quiet night.

07:07 Paris time

Protesters return to streets day after coup announcemen

Chanting “Returning to the past is not an option," crowds began gathering on the streets of Khartoum a day after Sudan’s military seized power from a transitional government.

Seven people died of gunshot wounds while 140 were injured on Monday, according to a health ministry official.

Protests broke out shortly after Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, announced the military takeover in a Monday morning televised address. The army had taken control "to rectify the revolution's course", said Burhan.

Soldiers detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, ministers in his government and civilian members of the ruling council, who have been heading a transition to full civilian rule following the April 2019 overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Internet services were cut across the country and roads into Khartoum were shut, before soldiers stormed the headquarters of the state broadcaster in the capital's twin city of Omdurman.

"Civilian rule is the people's choice," chanted the demonstrators, who waved flags and used tyres to create burning barricades.

The information ministry said soldiers "fired live bullets on protesters ... outside the army headquarters".

02:25 Paris time

Blinken ‘strongly’ condemns cou

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken "strongly" condemned the coup and called for the immediate return to civilian rule and the release of Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was detained Monday.

"The United States strongly condemns the actions of the Sudanese military forces," said Blinken said in a statement, as he expressed grave concern about reports that security forces used live ammunition against protesters.

"We firmly reject the dissolution of the civilian-led transitional government and its associated institutions and call for their immediate restoration," Blinken said.

01:45 Paris time

UN's Guterres calls for Hamdok's immediate release

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the military's takeover and urged the immediate release of Prime Minister Hamdok.

"I condemn the ongoing military coup in Sudan. Prime Minister Hamdok and all other officials must be released immediately," Guterres tweeted.

The UN is expected to meet later Tuesday to discuss the crisis.

Sudanese General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan's takeover announcement came after the armed forces detained the civilian leaders who have been heading the transition to full civilian rule following the April 2019 overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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