Sudanese PM Returns Home Under Tight Security, says PM’s Office

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has returned home with his wife under tight security, the prime minister’s office said on its Facebook account on Tuesday. Some ministers remain in detention and may be facing a trial.

Since early Monday, Hamdok and some of his ministers were arrested with civilian members in the Sovereign Council.

Earlier on Tuesday, General Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan denied the arrest of Hamdok, saying the prime minister is staying at Al-Burhan’s house at the Guest Palace.

Since a coup attempt on Sept. 21 in Sudan, the tensions between the military and civilian partners, who were assuming the transitional government, have continued to escalate.

Blinken speaks to Sudan prime minister, welcomes his release

A media report said:

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a telephone call with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok welcomed his release from custody and urged Sudan’s military forces to release other political prisoners, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a press release.

“The Secretary welcomed the Prime Minister’s release from custody and reiterated his call on Sudanese military forces to release all civilian leaders in detention and to ensure their safety,” Price said on Tuesday.

Blinken in his call with Sudan’s prime minister expressed deep concern over the ongoing takeover and emphasized the need for the Sudanese military to refrain from violence against protesters, Price said. The U.S. secretary underscored the need for a return to the transition civilian government, Price added.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Al Hadath broadcaster reported that Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was ousted in the military takeover, was returning home. Hamdok was reportedly being held at the home of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan Chairman Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who is also the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces.

The takeover came as the term of the 11-member transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan was approaching completion. Thereafter, the council was set to transfer power to a civilian government.

Burhan reportedly informed US official before military takeover

The New Arab said in a report (https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/sudan-burhan-informed-us-official-coup):

Sudan’s ruling General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan reportedly told a visiting US official that the military may make a move the day before he launched a coup against Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s government.

Burhan was speaking with Jeffrey Feltman, Washington’s Horn of Africa representative, in Khartoum, Axios reported.

The military takeover occurred on Monday within hours of Feltman leaving the Sudanese capital. Feltman had been taking part in talks to ease tension between Sudan’s military and civilian leadership.

Burhan reportedly informed Feltman privately on Sunday that moves might be made by sections of the military against the country’s civilian authorities.

The U.S. official reportedly responded that Washington would strongly oppose this and halt humanitarian assistance to Khartoum.

It is as yet unknown if Feltman is to travel back to Sudan, though he had not returned to the U.S. at the time of Axios’ reporting.

Following a 2019 revolution against longtime dictator Omar Al-Bashir, Sudan was in the process of transitioning to democracy under the authority of the Sovereignty Council and Hamdok’s government.

However, tensions have recently developed between Hamdok and Burhan, culminating in Monday’s coup.

China urges dialogue between Sudan’s factions

China is urging a dialogue between Sudanese factions as an apparent military coup roils the nation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Monday that China wanted all parties in Sudan “to resolve their differences through dialogue so as to maintain peace and stability of the country.”

He told reporters that China would continue to closely follow the turbulence in Sudan and “take necessary measures to ensure the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel there.”

China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is a major investor in Africa.

Who are Rapid Support Forces, the Coup Enablers in Sudan?

A report by Turkey’s TRT World said (https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/who-are-rapid-support-forces-the-coup-enablers-in-sudan-51078):

With Human Rights Watch calling them “men with no mercy”, the paramilitary group has been accused of various crimes from enforced disappearances to torture across Sudan.

As Sudan is witnessing yet another military coup since the fall of its dictator Omar al Bashir in 2019, the military junta has deployed a ruthless band of paramilitary troops, Rapid Support Forces (RSF), to crush public dissent.

The Sudanese military put the country’s transitional Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other ministers under arrest on Monday, while clashing with anti-coup protesters across the capital Khartoum and other cities.

One of the world’s poorest countries, Sudan’s most powerful institution is its army, which took control of the state by dismantling the transitional civilian government.

The junta gave a free hand to the RSF, which has the worst record of maintaining human rights, and ensured their men were deployed at critical intersections of the capital to tighten their control over Khartoum.

The RSF was established in 2013 to fight armed rebel groups in the country’s war-torn Darfur region. Its blood-stained existence has increased fears in Sudan’s pro-democracy circles that the country might enter another difficult phase in its complicated history.

“The participation and deployment of the RSF – a force with a well-documented record of abuse including during its deployment in law enforcement operations is alarming,” says Mohamed Osman, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher on Sudan.

“We’ve documented how they led a violent dispersal of a sit-in June 2019, and more recently also killed protesters in eastern Sudan. They have also arbitrarily detained civilians,” Osman tells TRT WorldThe RSF’s June crackdown left at least 120 people dead, injuring scores of others.

Osman thinks that military leaders need “to send a clear message that abusive operations will be punished” in the face of the coup.

But it is not clear how much coup leaders really want to control groups like the RSF with ties to both intelligence and military apparatuses as the security situation in Sudan deteriorates with expanding protests in the country, where the economic crisis has also gotten worse under the pandemic.

The coup leader, Abdel Fattah al Burhan, also dismantled the civilian government and the Sovereignty Council, an interim body comprising civilians and generals.

Following widespread protests in 2019, the military ousted Bashir. After a period of political uncertainty, the military and pro-democracy civilian leaders signed a power-sharing agreement in mid-2019, establishing a transitional civilian government.

According to the country’s transitional constitutional charter, which resulted from the power-sharing deal, the RSF has been defined as a regular military force without any authority over detentions and law enforcement tasks.

But as the military tightens up its grip on power, it appears that controlling the RSF, which has long been under the country’s second most powerful general, Mohammed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagolo, will be a menacing task for anyone.

Even prior to the military coup, the RSF detained people despite having no legal authority under the transitional charter, according to the HRW.

Why was the RSF formed? 

The RSF was established by the Sudanese government during the Darfur conflict, in which Khartoum used some of the country’s Arab tribes organised under Janjaweed militias against rebel groups to suppress the rebellion.

For a long time, Darfur’s sedentary population and nomadic tribes have been at odds over allocating natural resources in the region. When the conflict emerged in the first place, the central Sudanese government appeared to use this dichotomy to mobilize some nomadic tribes against rebel groups.

Under Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Janjaweed militias were turned into the RSF to fight armed rebellion in Darfur and other provinces like South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.

During military operations, the RSF have operated under the Sudanese military. The group’s commander Hemeti, a Chadian Arab, who settled in the Darfur region in his teenage years, was a Janjaweed militia leader, a vital force in forming the RSF. HRW has accused Hemeti of committing various war crimes.

While the initial purpose for creating the RSF was to develop a military instrument against Darfur rebels, later on, the paramilitary group has been used in the crackdowns against protests and other rebel activities across Sudan.

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