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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Sudan coup leader Burhan ‘relieves’ envoy to Qatar of duties

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The military chief on Tuesday said he was keeping the ousted prime minister at his own home before later releasing him.

Sudan’s coup leader and army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan “relieved” the Sudanese ambassador to Qatar and five others from their duties on Wednesday, as political unrest continues to rave the North African country.

Sudanese ambassadors to the US, EU, China, France and the head of Sudan’s mission to Geneva have also been recalled to Khartoum.

On Monday, Burhan led a military coup that saw the detention of civilian members of Sudan’s ruling body including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok over his refusal to support the coup.

Civilian officials taken into custody include Industry Minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh, and the governor of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, Ayman Khalid.

Since then, pro-democracy demonstrators have taken to the streets across the capital but were met with excessive violence by Sudanese troops. Since the coup erupted on Monday, at least seven people have been killed.

Burhan has also cut off internet access as violence continues to engulf the country.

Various world leaders have called for calm while denouncing attempts to overrun democracy.

Meanwhile, the African Union suspended Sudan’s participation from all activities “until the effective restoration of the civilian-led transitional authority” while calling for the immediate release of ministers and civilian officials.

On Tuesday, Burhan said he was keeping Hamdok at his own house “for his own safety” in a televised press conference. The prime minister and his wife were later allowed to return home, but it remains unclear whether they are free to leave.

The military chief has defended the coup by claiming it was launched to prevent a “civil war” among different parties that would have led to a split in the country.

“There were people who were talking about discriminating against others, and that was driving this country to reach a civil war that would lead to the fragmentation of this country, tearing apart its unity, its fabric and society. These dangers were in front of us,” Burhan, as thousands protested against the military in Khartoum.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Hamdok upon his release on Wednesday about “about the Sudanese people’s fight for democracy and the need to return to civilian leadership”, the Washington official said.

The US State Department also said Blinken spoke with Sudan’s Foreign Minister Mariam Al-Mahdi to “solicit her views about what steps the United States can take to support the Sudanese people in their call for a civilian-led transition to democracy”.

The World Bank has since halted the disbursement of aid in Sudan, a move seen to be a  setback to Burhan’s plans to seize power.

The World Bank re-engaged with Sudan following the overthrow of deposed leader Omar Al-Bashir, providing the country with $2 billion in financing.

The latest developments in the country come ahead of a power transfer to the civilian Sovereign Council, which the military saw as a threat to its position in the country.

Qatar is among a list of countries that have rejected the latest power grab in Sudan, “calling on all parties not to escalate, contain the situation, allow for the voice of reason to prevail, and work in the interests of the brotherly Sudanese people to achieve stability, justice, and peace”.

Since the overthrow of former President Bashir, who was toppled after a country-wide revolution in 2019, several coup attempts have taken place in the country, though none have been successful.

Read also: #NoToMilitaryCoup: Social media users rally to denounce Sudan ‘military coup’

Last month, Sudan was struck with yet another coup that was quickly suppressed by authorities. Some military officers and civilians accused of links to the previous President Al-Bashir regime attempted to overthrow the transitional government in Sudan.

Shortly after, Sudanese authorities said the situation was under control, and around 21 officers and a number of other soldiers were detained for interrogation.

Sudan has been grappling with a fragile path to democratic rule since the military’s overthrow of Bashir, with the joint civilian and military government struggling to control a dire economic and political situation in the country.


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