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  21 Sep 2021, 20:11

  Sudan government says foiled coup attempt linked to Bashir regime 

  KHARTOUM, Sept 21, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Sudan's fragile transitional government 
said it foiled an attempted coup on Tuesday involving military officers and 
civilians linked to the ousted regime of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

   Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the coup attempt was the "latest 
manifestation of the national crisis", in reference to deep divisions in 
Sudan during its move to democracy.

   In a televised speech, he said the plotters had "made extensive 
preparations, which were showcased in the security breakdown in cities... 
blocking of national roads, closure of ports and persistent instigation 
against the civilian government."

   Information Minister Hamza Baloul said later the coup attempt had been 
thwarted and those behind it "brought under control".

   "We assure the Sudanese people that order has been restored and the 
leaders of the attempted coup, both military and civilian, have been arrested 
and are being investigated," he said.

   "Authorities are pursuing supporters of the defunct regime who 
participated in the coup attempt."

   The military said "most" of those involved in the coup attempt had been 
arrested, including 11 officers.

   "The army regained control over the sites that perpetrators sought to 
seize," it said. "Searches and investigations are still ongoing for others 
involved."

   State television had aired patriotic songs as it announced the coup 
attempt and urged "the people to confront it".

   In Khartoum, traffic appeared to be flowing smoothly, including around 
army headquarters, where protesters staged a months-long sit-in that 
eventually led to Bashir's overthrow in a palace coup by the army in 2019.

   Security forces closed the main bridge across the White Nile connecting 
Khartoum to its twin city Omdurman.

   Anti-coup demonstrations broke out later in several cities.

   At Port Sudan in the east of the country, protesters raised Sudanese flags 
and chanted "No to military rule" and "No to coup", eyewitness Mohamed Hassan 
said.

   Students took to the streets and shouted similar slogans in the eastern 
city of Gedaref, another eyewitness, Amal Hussein, told AFP.

   - 'We will not allow a coup' -

  There have been previous coup attempts since Bashir's ouster which 
officials have blamed on Islamist supporters of the former president.

   Sudan has had a long history of coups. Bashir, a one-time general himself, 
came to power on the back of an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989.

   Since his ouster, the ex-president has been kept in Khartoum's high 
security Kober prison and is facing trial over the coup which brought him to 
power.

   He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war 
crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for his prosecution of a deadly 
scorched-earth campaign against ethnic minority rebels in Darfur. 

   During a visit to Khartoum last month, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan signed a 
cooperation deal with the transitional authorities that marked another step 
towards Bashir facing trial in The Hague.

   In an address to troops on Tuesday, powerful paramilitary commander 
Mohamed Hamdan Daglo said: "We will not allow a coup to take place.

   "We want real democratic transition through free and fair elections, not 
like in the past," said the commander, widely known as Hemeti.

   Under an August 2019 power-sharing deal, Sudan is ruled by a transitional 
government composed of both civilian and military representatives, and tasked 
with overseeing a return to full civilian rule.

   The deal originally provided for the formation of a legislative assembly 
during a three-year transition, but that period was reset when Sudan signed 
the peace deal with rebel groups last October.

   - Two years under transition -

   More than two years into the transition, Sudan remains plagued by chronic 
economic problems inherited from Bashir as well as deep divisions among the 
various factions steering the transition.

   The promised legislative assembly has yet to materialise.

   In June, Hamdok had warned of worrying divisions within Sudan's military 
and security establishment.

   "The coup (attempt) ... clearly indicates the importance of reform to the 
military and security sectors," he said on Tuesday.

   Civilians and former rebel groups have stepped up calls for armed groups 
and paramilitary forces to be merged into the regular army.

   In recent months, tensions have reportedly simmered between paramilitaries 
and army commanders over the integration process.

   The transitional government has launched a package of tough economic 
reforms to qualify for debt relief from the International Monetary Fund, seen 
by many Sudanese as too harsh.
 

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