Deposed Sudan PM, Abdalla Hamdok, returns home under guard
Abdalla Hamdok, the deposed Prime Minister of Sudan, has been allowed to return home, according to his office, a day after the country’s military detained him after seizing power in a coup.
The release of Hamdok and his wife on Tuesday followed international condemnation of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s power grab. The United States had said it would suspend aid, while the European Union had threatened to do the same.
Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, had also demanded Hamdok’s immediate release as he urged world powers to unite to confront what he called a recent “epidemic of coups d’etat”.
The statement by Hamdok’s office said the deposed prime minister and his wife were under “heavy security” at their home in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and that other civilian officials arrested on the day of the coup remained in detention, their locations unknown.
The takeover came after weeks of mounting tensions between military and civilian leaders over the course and pace of Sudan’s transition to democracy. Al- Burhan was supposed to hand the leadership of the Sovereign Council that runs the country to a civilian next month – a step that would have decreased the military’s hold on power.
But the coup has threatened to derail Sudan’s transitional process, which has progressed in fits and starts since the overthrow of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago.
On Tuesday, pro-democracy demonstrators returned to the streets, blocking roads in the capital with makeshift barricades and burning tires. Troops had fired on crowds a day earlier, killing four protesters, according to doctors.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, a group of unions that was behind the uprising against al-Bashir, also urged people to go on strike and engage in civil disobedience. Separately, the Sudan Popular Liberation Movement-North, the country’s main rebel group, denounced the coup and called for people to take to the streets.
Sudan’s national petroleum company, Sudapet, responded on Wednesday to the call saying it will join the nationwide civil disobedience movement. Rail workers also said they will join the strike.
A group of neighbourhood committees in Khartoum also announced plans for further protests, leading to what it said would be a “march of millions” on Saturday.
In one Khartoum neighbourhood, a Reuters journalist saw soldiers and armed people in civilian clothes removing barricades erected by protesters.
A few hundred metres away, youths came out to build barricades again minutes later. One of them said, “We want civilian rule. We won’t get tired.”
In a televised speech on Tuesday, al-Burhan defended the military’s move, saying it was meant to avoid a civil war. He also pledged to hold elections, as planned, in July 2023, and to appoint a technocratic government in the meantime.