Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan defended the army’s seizure of power, saying on Tuesday he had ousted the government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to avoid civil war.
Speaking at his first news conference since he announced Monday’s takeover, Mr. Burhan accused politicians of incitement against the armed forces. He said Mr. Hamdok had not been harmed and had been brought to Mr. Burhan’s own home.
The prime minister was in his house. However, we were afraid that he’d be in danger so he has been placed with me at my home, said Mr. Burhan.
The dangers we witnessed last week could have led the country into civil war, he said. Cabinet ministers had attended demonstrations last week to protest against the prospect of a military takeover.
Soldiers arrested the prime minister and other members of his cabinet on Monday, and hours later Mr. Burhan appeared on TV to announce the dissolution of the Sovereign Council, a body set up to share power between the military and civilians.
The military takeover brought a halt to Sudan’s transition to democracy two years after a popular uprising toppled long-ruling autocrat Mr. Omar al-Bashir.
An official at the health ministry said seven people had been killed in clashes between protesters and the security forces on Monday.
Images on social media showed fresh street protests on Tuesday in the cities of Atbara, Dongola, Elobeid and Port Sudan. People chanted “Don’t give your back to the army, the army won’t protect you.”
Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman across the Nile were partly locked down, with shops shut and plumes of smoke rising from where protesters were burning tyres. Calls for a general strike were played over mosque loudspeakers. Streets and bridges were blocked by soldiers or protester barricades.
Mr. Burhan said the military’s action did not amount to a coup, as the army had been trying to rectify the path of the political transition.
We only wanted to correct the course to a transition. We had promised the people of Sudan and the entire world. We will protect this transition, said Mr. Burhan. He said a new government would be formed which would not contain any typical politicians.
Western countries have denounced the coup, called for the detained cabinet ministers to be freed and said they will cut off aid if the military does not restore power sharing with civilians.