Sudan: Internet Access Cut As Armed Forces Detain Prime Minister, Other Leaders In ‘Coup’
Armed forces detained Sudan’s prime minister over his refusal to support their “coup” on Monday, the information ministry said, after weeks of tensions between the military and civilian figures sharing power since the ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Civilian members of Sudan’s ruling council and ministers in Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional government had also been detained, the ministry said in a statement on Facebook.
Internet services were cut across the country and the main roads and bridges connecting with Khartoum shuttered, it added.
Soldiers stormed the headquarters of Sudan’s state broadcaster in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, the ministry said, as patriotic songs were aired on television.
People took to the streets, setting tyres abaze and piling rows of bricks across roads to block them in protest against the military move, an AFP correspondent said.
Sudanese Professionals’ Association, a group leading demands for a transition to democracy, also said there were internet and phone signal outages across the country.
A possible takeover by the military would be a major setback for Sudan, which has grappled with a transition to democracy since long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled by mass protests.
Monday’s arrests come after weeks of rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders.
A failed coup attempt in September fractured the country along old lines, pitting more-conservative Islamists who want a military government against those who toppled al-Bashir more than two years ago in mass protests. In recent days, both camps have taken to the street in demonstrations.
The arrests of the five government figures were confirmed by two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The officials said the detained government members include Industry Minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh, Information Minister Hamza Baloul, and Mohammed al-Fiky Suliman, member of the country’s ruling transitional body, known as The Sovereign Council, and Faisal Mohammed Saleh, a media adviser to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
Photos circulating online showed men in uniform standing in the dark, allegedly near his home.
Ayman Khalid, governor of the state containing the capital, Khartoum, was also arrested, according to the official Facebook page of his office.
The arrests followed meetings the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman had with Sudanese military and civilian leaders Saturday and Sunday in efforts to resolve the dispute. Sudan’s state news website highlighted the meetings with military officials.
NetBlocks, a group which tracks disruptions across the internet, said it had seen a “significant disruption” to both fixed-line and mobile internet connections across Sudan with multiple providers early Monday.
The advocacy group said;
Metrics corroborate user reports network disruptions appearing consistent with an internet shutdown. The disruption is likely to limit the free flow of information online and news coverage of incidents on the ground.