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Sudan gov't says foiled coup attempt linked to Bashir regime

By AFP - Sep 21,2021 - Last updated at Sep 21,2021

This photo taken on Tuesday shows a view of the Mek Nimr Bridge across the Blue Nile River, linking the centre of Sudan's capital Khartoum with the adjacent city of Khartoum North (AFP photo)

KHARTOUM — Sudan's fragile transitional government said it foiled an attempted coup early Tuesday involving military officers and civilians linked to the ousted regime of longtime President Omar Al Bashir.

Information Minister Hamza Baloul said the coup attempt was thwarted and those behind it "brought under control".

"We assure the Sudanese people that order has been restored and the leaders of the attempted coup, both military and civilian, have been arrested and are being investigated," he said in a televised address.

"Authorities are pursuing supporters of the defunct regime who participated in the coup attempt."

Top military and government sources had told AFP that the plotters had attempted to take over the state media building but "failed" and the officers involved were "immediately suspended".

State television broadcast patriotic songs as it announced the coup attempt and urged "the people to confront it".

The Cabinet said "all those involved in the attempt have been detained".

Traffic appeared to be flowing smoothly in central Khartoum, AFP correspondents reported, including around army headquarters, where protesters staged a months-long sit-in that eventually led to Bashir's overthrow in a palace coup by the army in 2019.

Security forces did, however, close the main bridge across the White Nile connecting Khartoum to its twin city Omdurman.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the coup attempt was the "latest manifestation of the national crisis".

The plotters "made extensive preparations, which were showcased in the security breakdown in cities ... blocking of national roads, closure of ports and persistent instigation against the civilian government", he said in a televised speech.

Demonstrators have since Friday blocked key roads as well as the country’s main trade hub, Port Sudan, to protest a peace deal the transitional government signed with rebel groups last year.

There have been previous coup attempts since Bashir’s ouster which officials have blamed on Islamist supporters of the former president and members of his now-defunct ruling party.

Sudan has had a long history of coups. Bashir, a one-time general himself, came to power on the back of an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989.

Since his ouster, the ex-president has been kept in Khartoum’s high security Kober Prison and is facing trial over the coup which brought him to power.

He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for his prosecution of a deadly scorched-earth campaign against ethnic minority rebels in Darfur.

During a visit to Khartoum last month, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan signed a cooperation deal with the transitional authorities that marked another step towards Bashir facing trial in The Hague.

In an address to troops on Tuesday, powerful paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo said: “We will not allow a coup to take place.”

“We want real democratic transition through free and fair elections, not like in the past,” said the commander, widely known as Hemeti.

Under an August 2019 power-sharing deal, Sudan is ruled by a transitional government composed of both civilian and military representatives, and tasked with overseeing a return to full civilian rule.

The deal originally provided for the formation of a legislative assembly during a three-year transition, but that period was reset when Sudan signed the peace deal with rebel groups last October.

Two years under transition 

More than two years into the transition, the country remains plagued by chronic economic problems inherited from the Bashir regime as well as deep divisions among the various factions steering the transition.

The promised legislative assembly has yet to materialise.

In June, Hamdok had warned of worrying divisions within Sudan’s military and security establishment.

“The coup [attempt]... clearly indicates the importance of reform to the military and security sectors,” the premier said on Tuesday.

Civilians and former rebel groups have stepped up calls for armed groups and paramilitary forces to be merged into the regular army.

In recent months, tensions have reportedly simmered between paramilitaries and army commanders over the integration process.

The transitional government headed by Hamdok has also vowed to dismantle Bashir’s legacy and fix the battered economy.

It has launched a package of tough economic reforms to qualify for debt relief from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The steps, which included slashing subsidies and a managed float of the Sudanese pound, were seen by many Sudanese as too harsh.

Sporadic protests have broken out against the IMF-backed reforms and the rising cost of living, as well as delays in delivering justice to the families of those killed under Bashir.

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