Sudan's prime minister, detained after coup, returns home

According to a statement from his office, the deposed prime minister of Sudan and his wife were allowed back home Tuesday, just one day after being detained by the military during a coup.

Sudan's prime minister, detained after coup, returns home

After international condemnation of the coup, the release of Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok (and his wife) was called for by the military to free all government officials detained on Monday when Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan took power.

According to Hamdok's office, other government officials were still in detention. Their locations are unknown. According to a military official speaking under condition of anonymity, the prime minister and wife of the deposed prime minister were being held in "heavy security" at their home in Khartoum's Kafouri neighborhood. The official didn't say if they were allowed to leave or make phone calls.

Burhan stated earlier in the day that Hamdok was being held to ensure his safety and would be freed. He warned, however, that others in the dissolved government might be tried as the protests against the putsch raged on.

In a move widely condemned abroad, the military took power. Pro-democracy protestors blocked the roads of the capital using makeshift barricades, burning tires and other means. Doctors say that four protesters were killed when troops opened fire on the crowds one day before.

Burhan made his second public appearance since he took power. He stated that the military had been forced to intervene to solve a political crisis.

"There were people talking about discriminating against other people, and that was driving this nation to a civil war, which would lead to the country's fragmentation, its fabric, and society. These dangers were before us," Burhan said at a televised newsconference.

The coup happened less than a month after Burhan was to give the leadership of Sovereign Council, which runs the country, to a civilian -- an action that would have reduced the military's power.

Burhan stated that the country was stuck because of political rivalries. "The past two years have shown that political participation in the transitional period was flawed and causes strife," Burhan said.

The general stated that Hamdok was being held at Burhan’s house and in good health. Burhan, who was among many senior officials from the government, claimed that several tried to incite rebellion within the armed forces and promised them a trial. He added that others who are found innocent would be released.

After weeks of growing tensions between civilian and military leaders about the pace and course of Sudan's transition from dictatorship to democracy, the takeover was completed. It could derail the process that has been moving slowly since Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in a popular revolt two years ago.

On Tuesday, U.N. Security Council Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for world leaders to unite in the face of a recent "epidemic" of coups. But, the U.N.'s largest body did not take any action during closed-door discussions about Sudan, an African nation that is linked to the Arab world through language and culture.

Hamdok's office expressed concern about Hamdok and the safety of other detained officials. The office released a statement accusing military leaders of conspiring with Islamists. They have advocated for a military government and other politicians associated to the now-dissolved National Congress Party. This party ruled Sudan under al-Bashir's Islamist-backed rule.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that $700 million in emergency aid to Sudan has been halted and stated it was looking to send stronger signals to the generals.

Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to the administration, stated that they must stop violence against innocent civilians and that they should release all detained people and get back on a democratic track.

Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, reported that Hamdok spoke to him on Tuesday. This was the first contact of high level between the U.S. and Sudan since the coup attempt and suspension of U.S. assistance. According to a State Department statement, Blinken praised Hamdok's freedom and stressed that the U.S. supports civilian-led transitions to democracy in Sudan.

Mariam al-Mahdi was the foreign minister of the dissolution government and declared Tuesday that she and the other members from Hamdok's administration were still the legitimate authorities in Sudan.

"We remain in our positions. She said that she rejected such coups and unconstitutional measures. "We will continue our peaceful disobedience, resistance."

The Ministry of Culture and Information, which is still loyal to the deposed government said in a Facebook posting that Sudanese Ambassadors in Belgium, Switzerland, and France had defected.

Nureldin Satti was the Sudanese ambassador to the U.S. He said that he was working alongside diplomats to "resist military coup in support the heroic struggle of Sudanese people to achieve the aspirations of the uprising against al Bashir." He did not say whether he had also defected.

Al-Mahdi spoke with Khalid Omar's wife and stated that he was mistreated and humiliated during his arrest.

She said that Khalid was taken by military forces "barefoot" and was wearing his nightclothes only.

Hours after the arrests were made, Sudanese protestors flooded Khartoum's streets. According to the Sudan Doctors’ Committee, at least four people were shot dead and more than 80 injured when security forces opened fire. Human Rights Watch stated that forces used live ammunition against demonstrators.

In 2019, Sudan witnessed a brutal crackdown on protesters demanding democracy. There were concerns about a repeat of this crackdown. The Saturday protest march by demonstrators demanding a return of civilian rule will be a bigger test for how the military responds to resistance.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, a union group that supported the revolt against al-Bashir's regime, encouraged people to strike and take part in civil disobedience. Separately, Sudan Popular Liberation Movement North, the main rebel group in the country, condemned the coup and called on people to march.

A group called the Justice and Equality Movement criticized the government for taking over the military coup, as it was a sign that there are divisions among civilian leaders in Sudan. The group claimed that a few officials had monopolized the decision-making process and were unwilling to enter into dialogue.

This group was headed by Gibreil Ibrahim, Finance Minister. It is the first to voice support for the military, but also called on it to end the state emergency, release detainees, and appoint an civilian government to manage day-to-day operations. The group was part of a sit-in organized by pro-military groups in Khartoum earlier this month.

Another pro-military faction that split from the protest movement that ousted al Bashir welcomed the takeover. It stated that it would end a sit in it had organized to support the generals outside the presidential palace earlier this month.

The military sent mixed signals regarding Sudan's future. Burhan said that he would gradually restore the internet and other communications services that were interrupted by the coup. The Civil Aviation Authority, however, stated that it would suspend all flights from Khartoum's airport through Oct. 30.

Burhan, who was the leader of the military council following the coup, said that he would continue to rule Sudan until elections are held in July 2023.