The release of Hamdok and his wife on Tuesday follows international condemnation of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s seizure of power. The United States had announced that it would suspend aid, while the European Union had threatened to do the same.
Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, also called for Hamdok’s immediate release as he urged world powers to unite to deal with what he called a recent “epidemic of coups” .
The statement from Hamdok’s office said the ousted prime minister and his wife were under “increased security” at their home in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and that other civilian officials arrested on the day of the coup remained in detention, their locations unknown.
The takeover came after weeks of growing tensions between military and civilian leaders during and at the pace of Sudan’s transition to democracy. Al-Burhan was supposed to hand over the leadership of the Sovereign Council that rules the country to a civilian next month – a step that would have lessened the military’s grip on power.
But the coup threatened to derail Sudan’s transition process, which has progressed in spurts since the toppling of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago.
On Tuesday, pro-democracy protesters returned to the streets, blocking the capital’s roads with makeshift barricades and burning tires. Troops fired at the crowd a day earlier, killing four protesters, medics said.
“The epidemic of coups d’état”
Earlier today, al-Burhan made his second appearance since the coup, saying the military was forced to intervene to avoid civil war.
The general said Hamdok had been detained for his safety at his home and would be released.
But among many other senior government officials detained on Monday, al-Burhan said some had tried to incite a rebellion within the armed forces, saying they would be tried. Others who were found “innocent” would be released, he added.
At UN headquarters in New York, the Security Council held closed-door consultations on Sudan, but took no action. And this despite the appeal launched by Guterres to the instance to act together to dissuade “this epidemic of coups d’état”. The military takeover in Sudan was preceded by coups d’état in Myanmar, Mali and Guinea, and attempted coups in several other countries.
Guterres said strong geopolitical divisions among Security Council members and the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have created “an environment in which some military leaders feel they have total impunity, they can do whatever they want because nothing will happen to them ”.
The council has already issued statements expressing concern over the situation in Myanmar and condemning the military takeover in Mali. He is still discussing a possible statement on Sudan, diplomats said.
Ahead of the meeting, Dmitri Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, said the council “should call for an end to violence on all sides.” He also said that “I don’t think it’s our job to label such hit or no hit situations.”
The US State Department, meanwhile, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Hamdok after his release.
He also called on the Sudanese military to release all civilian leaders in detention and stressed that the United States supports a civilian-led transition to democracy in Sudan.
US, Saudi Arabia condemn coup
Washington has already announced that it will suspend emergency aid worth $ 700 million to Sudan and said it plans to send stronger signals to the country’s generals.
The State Department said Tuesday that Blinken also spoke with his Saudi counterpart, a key player in Sudan.
Blinken and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhad Al Saud “condemned the October 25 military takeover in Sudan and its effects on the stability of Sudan and the region,” the statement said.
Sudan saw a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2019, and there are fears that the security forces will again use force against civilians. Protesters are planning a mass march to demand a return to civilian rule on Saturday, which is likely to prove a major test of how the military will react to resistance to its regime.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, a group of unions behind the uprising against al-Bashir, has also urged people to go on strike and engage in civil disobedience. Meanwhile, the North Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the country’s main rebel group, denounced the coup and called on the population to take to the streets.
In a sign of divisions among civilian leaders in Sudan, a group known as the Justice and Equality Movement blamed the ousted government for the military takeover. He said a few officials had monopolized decision-making and refused to engage in dialogue.
The group, led by Finance Minister Gibreil Ibrahim, is the first to publicly express support for the military, but also urged it to end the state of emergency, release detainees and appoint a civilian government to direct day-to-day operations. Earlier this month, the group participated in a pro-military sit-in in Khartoum.
The military has sent mixed signals about the future of Sudan.
Al-Burhan pledged to gradually restore internet and communications services that were disrupted during the coup. But the Civil Aviation Authority said it was suspending all flights to and from Khartoum airport until October 30.