Sudan military leader fires six diplomats who criticised coup

The diplomats had pledged their support for the now-deposed government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

People walk on a street in Khartoum, Sudan, two days after a military coup
People walk on a street in Khartoum, Sudan, two days after a military coup

Sudan’s military leader has fired at least six ambassadors, including the envoys to the US, the European Union and France, after they condemned the military’s takeover of the country, an official said.

The diplomats had pledged their support for the now-deposed government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Also fired by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan late on Wednesday were the Sudanese ambassadors to Qatar, China and the UN mission in Geneva, according to the military official.

The state-run Sudan TV also reported the dismissals.

Sudan’s head of the military General Abdel-Fattah Burhan
Sudan’s head of the military General Abdel-Fattah Burhan (Marwan Ali/AP)

The ambassadors were fired two days after Gen Burhan dissolved the transitional government and detained the prime minister, many government officials and political leaders in a coup condemned by the US and the West.

The military allowed Mr Hamdok to return home on Tuesday after international pressure for his release.

Gen Burhan said the military forces were compelled to take over because of quarrels between political parties that he claimed could lead to civil war.

However, the coup also comes just weeks before Gen Burhan would have had to hand over the leadership of the Sovereign Council, the ultimate decision-maker in Sudan, to a civilian, in a step that would reduce the military’s hold on the country.

The council has military and civilian members.

Mr Hamdok’s government ran Sudan’s daily affairs.

The coup threatens to halt Sudan’s fitful transition to democracy, which began after the 2019 ousting of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government in a popular uprising.

The takeover came after weeks of mounting tensions between military and civilian leaders over the course and pace of that process.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok (AP)

Ali bin Yahia, Sudan’s envoy in Geneva, was defiant after his dismissal.

“I will spare no efforts to reverse the situation, explain facts and resist the blackout imposed by coup officials on what is happening in my beloved country,” he said in video comments posted online.

Nureldin Satti, the Sudanese envoy to the US, said on Tuesday he was working with Sudanese diplomats in Brussels, Paris, Geneva and New York to “resist the military coup in support of the heroic struggle of the Sudanese people” to achieve the aims of the uprising against Mr al-Bashir.

Activists have been circulating videos on social media showing mostly empty streets in the capital, with many stores closed on Thursday. Earlier, protesters called for a national strike to pressure the military to relinquish power.

Earlier this week, a group of more than 30 Sudanese diplomats in and outside Sudan condemned the military’s takeover in a joint statement, saying that the ambassadors in Belgium, Switzerland and France had pledged their continued allegiance to the Hamdok government.

The Ministry of Culture and Information, still loyal to Mr Hamdok, said in a Facebook post that the ambassador to South Africa is also part of this group.

In another development, Gen Burhan fired Adlan Ibrahim, head of the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, according to the official.

Mr Adlan’s dismissal came after the resumption of flights in and out of Khartoum’s international airport resumed on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear if Mr Ibrahim’s dismissal was linked to the reopening of the airport or whether the decision was made before then.

Sudanese security forces in Khartoum
Sudanese security forces in Khartoum on Tuesday (Marwan Ali/AP)

The airport remained open on Thursday morning.

The country’s Civil Aviation Authority initially said flights would be suspended until Saturday, the day of a planned mass protest against the coup, but then reopened the airport on Wednesday.

Protesters, meanwhile, took to the streets of Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman late on Wednesday in continued demonstrations against the coup amid heavy security across the capital.

No casualties were reported, but a young man died in a Khartoum hospital late on Wednesday of wounds sustained in Monday’s protests and another one, who had been into a coma for nearly two days after being shot in the head, died early on Thursday, according to activist Nazim Siraj.

This raised to eight the number of protesters killed since Monday.

At least 170 people have been wounded since the military’s takeover, according to a statement issued by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Most of the cases, including moderate and severe ones, are lying in Khartoum hospitals, which are battling a shortage in surgical and other medical supplies as the movement in the capital remains restricted by roadblocks, added OCHA.

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