The United States “strongly” condemned the leaders of the military coup in Sudan as the United Nations scheduled an emergency meeting on the crisis and the protests entered a second day.
After clashes between pro-democracy protesters and security forces left at least seven dead on Monday, protesters took to the streets of the capital Khartoum again on Tuesday morning chanting “Going back to the past is not an issue. option ”.
The protesters found the support of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who called for the immediate return to civilian rule and the release of the detained prime minister.
“The United States strongly condemns the actions of the Sudanese military forces,” he said in a statement Monday evening, expressing grave concern at reports that the security forces used live ammunition against protesters.
“We strongly reject the dissolution of the civilian-led transitional government and its associated institutions and call for their immediate restoration,” said Blinken, whose government has suspended $ 700 million in aid to Sudan.
Tensions had been mounting in Sudan since what the civilian government described as a failed coup attempt on September 21 and disagreements within the country’s “sovereign council” in which power was shared between civilian and military leaders. .
The Sudanese armed forces decided to end the stalemate on Sunday by arresting civilian leaders, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who led the country’s transition to full civilian rule following the April 2019 overthrow of the autocratic leader. longtime Omar al-Bashir.
The military also declared a state of emergency, and much of the internet and mobile phone network were cut off immediately after the coup.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who had been at the head of the “sovereign council”, justified the seizure of power and the dissolution of the transitional government of the country by asserting that the infighting between the soldiers and the civilians had threatened the stability of the country. The army was supposed to have passed the leadership of the Joint Sovereign Council to a civilian figure in the coming months.
Pro-democracy protesters immediately took to the streets to protest after Burhan’s speech, blocking streets and torching tires in the capital Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman.
They chanted “The people are stronger, stronger” and “Retirement is not an option! As they clashed with security forces, who used tear gas and live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
The Ministry of Information said the soldiers “fired live ammunition at protesters rejecting the military coup in front of army headquarters.”
However, a video shared on social media showed people fleeing the sound of gunfire and a man being treated for what looked like a gunshot wound.
Among the crowds converging on central Khartoum was Ahmed Osman, who said he was a relative of one of the detained ministers.
“I have been in the street since 2 am when I learned of the minister’s disappearance. We don’t know where they took him. He has always been the target of Islamists, ”said the young man, who had wrapped himself in the Sudanese flag. “This is our country, isn’t it?” We have to reject what is going on.
At least seven people were killed, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health on Monday evening.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that the detention of civilian leaders was “illegal” and condemned “the ongoing military coup”.
The UN has demanded the “immediate release” of the Sudanese prime minister, and diplomats in New York said Monday evening that the Security Council was to meet to discuss the crisis on Tuesday.
The European Union, the African Union and the Arab League have also expressed concern.
Jonas Horner of the International Crisis Group think tank called it “an existential moment for both parties … This kind of intervention … really puts autocracy on the menu.”
Hamdok previously described the splits in the transitional government as the “worst and most dangerous crisis” the transition faces.
Bashir, who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for three decades, is in prison in Khartoum following a corruption conviction. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court to face genocide charges over the civil war in Darfur.
But United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has warned that Sudan risks relapsing into oppression.
“It would be disastrous if Sudan turned back the clock after finally ending decades of repressive dictatorship,” Bachelet said.
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.