In a joint statement Wednesday, Western governments said they would continue to recognize civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok as the head of the country’s transitional government. Meanwhile, the African Union said it would suspend Sudan from all its activities until the transition authority, led by civilians, is restored.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said separately that he spoke with Hamdok after he returned to his residence late Tuesday about “the need to return to civilian leadership.”
But others remained in detention in unknown locations, according to Hamdok’s office, and more have been detained. “This evening, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his wife were returned to their residence in Khartoum under tight security,” it said in a statement.
Most of his cabinet ministers were detained as security forces spread out across the capital Monday in a power grab that threatened a democratic transition propelled by millions of Sudanese who marched for the overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir more than two years ago. Young men and women who have since protested for civilian rule pledged to flood the streets again to resist the coup.
In a televised speech Tuesday, Burhan said the prime minister was neither arrested nor harmed, but kept in “safe custody” at the general’s own home for his protection. He claimed without elaborating that there were threats to Hamdok’s life and promised a government “not crippled by disagreement.”
As for the fates of other officials, the general said some were in custody and believed to “undermine national security.”
Before the swift takeover this week, Sudan’s military and civilian leaders shared power in a fragile arrangement plagued by suspicion and disagreements on fundamental questions, including how to dole out accountability for decades of atrocities committed in the past.
Since the military swept aside its civilian counterparts, crowds have gathered in the streets in protest, with at least seven people killed and dozens more injured in a heavy-handed crackdown, according to a prominent doctors association.