Protesters were defiant on the streets of Sudan on Tuesday demonstrating against a military coup, as international condemnation of the country’s security forces ramped up with the UN Security Council expected to meet later.
“Returning to the past is not an option,” chanted the crowds, who remained outside despite soldiers opening fire and reportedly killing at least four people.
On Monday, soldiers detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, ministers in his government and civilian members of the ruling council, who have been heading a transition to full civilian rule following the April 2019 overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
The subsequent declaration of a state of emergency and dissolution of the government provoked an immediate international backlash, with the US, a key backer of Sudan’s transition process, strongly condemning the military’s actions and suspending millions of dollars in aid.
The UN demanded Hamdok’s “immediate release”, while diplomats in New York told AFP the Security Council was expected to meet to discuss the crisis on Tuesday.
Announcing the state of emergency, Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said the army had taken the actions it had “to rectify the revolution’s course”.
Internet services were cut across the country and roads into Khartoum were shut, before soldiers stormed the headquarters of the state broadcaster in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman.
But clashes still erupted in Khartoum after Burhan’s speech.
“Civilian rule is the people’s choice,” chanted the demonstrators, who waved flags and used tyres to create burning barricades.
The information ministry said soldiers “fired live bullets on protesters… outside the army headquarters”.
At least four demonstrators were killed and about 80 people wounded, according to the independent Central Committee of Sudan Doctors.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern over reports that security services had used live ammunition against protesters.
“The United States strongly condemns the actions of the Sudanese military forces,” said Blinken, calling for the restoration of the civilian-led transitional government.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said US officials had not been able to contact the detained prime minister.
The US has suspended $700 million in aid.