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 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.”
Earlier, top military and government sources 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”.
Senior members of Sudan’s ruling council told AFP the coup attempt had been “thwarted” and “the revolution is victorious.”
The cabinet announced that “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.
Security forces did however close the main bridge across the White Nile connecting Khartoum to its twin city Omdurman.
– ‘We will not allow a coup’ –
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 on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for his prosecution of a deadly war 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 his 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 a peace deal with an alliance of rebel groups last October.
– Two years under transition –
More than two years on, 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.
The transitional administration headed by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has vowed to dismantle Bashir’s legacy, fix the battered economy and forge peace with rebel groups who fought the Bashir regime.
Last year, Sudan signed peace deals with rebel groups from Darfur as well as South Kordofan and Blue Nile states after lengthy negotiations in the South Sudanese capital Juba.
Leaders of the former rebel groups were later appointed to Sudan’s cabinet and ruling council.
Hamdok’s government has also undertaken a series of tough economic reforms to qualify for debt relief from the International Monetary Fund.
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.
On Monday, demonstrators blocked key roads as well as the country’s key trade hub, Port Sudan, to protest the peace deal signed with rebel groups last year.