Military forces in Sudan have detained a number of senior government figures, officials said, as leading politicians called on people to take to the streets to counter an apparent military coup.
Sudan’s information ministry said the internet had been cut off and military forces had closed bridges, while the country’s state news channel played patriotic traditional music and scenes of the Nile river.
The Umma Party, the country’s largest political party, described the arrests as an attempted coup, and called on people to take to the streets in resistance.
Earlier, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, a group leading demands for a transition to democracy, issued a similar call.
A possible takeover by the military would be a major setback for Sudan, which has grappled with a transition to democracy since long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled by mass protests.
Weeks of rising tensions
The arrests comes after weeks of rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders.
A failed coup attempt in September fractured the country along old lines, pitting more conservative Islamists who want a military government against those who toppled Mr al-Bashir in mass protests.
In recent days, both camps have taken to the street in demonstrations.
The officials said the detained include industry minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh, information minister Hamza Baloul, Mohammed al-Fiky Suliman, member of the ruling Sovereign Council, and Faisal Mohammed Saleh, a media adviser to prime minister Abdalla Hamdok.
The whereabouts of Mr Hamdok are not immediately clear, amid media reports that security forces were stationed outside his home in Khartoum. Photos circulating online showed men in uniform standing in the dark, allegedly near his home.
Ayman Khalid, governor of the state containing the capital, Khartoum, was also arrested, according to the official Facebook page of his office.
Under Mr Hamdok and the transitional council, Sudan has slowly emerged from years of international pariah status under Mr al-Bashir. The country was removed from the United States’ state supporter of terror list in 2020, opening the door for badly needed international loans and investment.
The country’s economy has also struggled with the shock of a number economic reforms called for by international lending institutions.
There have been previous military coups in Sudan since it gained its independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956. Mr al-Bashir came to power in a 1989 military coup that removed the country’s last elected government.
The arrests have come as the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman met with Sudanese military and civilian leaders Saturday and Sunday in efforts to resolve a growing dispute. Sudan’s Stat News website highlighted the meetings with military officials.
The Sudanese Communist Party called on workers to go on strike as well as mass civil disobedience after what it described as a “full military coup” orchestrated by the Sovereign Council’s head, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan.
NetBlocks, a group which tracks disruptions across the internet, said it had seen a “significant disruption” to both fixed-line and mobile internet connections across Sudan with multiple providers.
“Metrics corroborate user reports network disruptions appearing consistent with an internet shutdown,” the advocacy group said.
“The disruption is likely to limit the free flow of information online and news coverage of incidents on the ground.”