Sudan army fires six envoys as coup condemnation mounts

State media report that ambassadors to the United States, the EU, China, Qatar, France and the head of mission in Geneva have been relieved of their positions.

Sudan’s ruling army has fired six ambassadors and security forces have tightened their crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, even as international pressure against this week’s coup grows.

The decision, announced late Wednesday in state media, included Sudan’s ambassadors to the United States, the European Union, China, Qatar, France and the country’s head of mission in the Swiss city of Geneva, apparently by his rejection of the military takeover. .

It came as demands mounted for the military to roll back Monday’s coup that derailed Sudan’s fragile transition to democracy following the removal of ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 in a popular uprising.

On Wednesday, the African Union announced its decision to suspend Sudan from the bloc’s activities until the restoration of the country’s civilian-led transitional government, while the World Bank froze aid and the United States paused $ 700 million in aid from emergency. Several Western embassies in Khartoum also said they will continue to recognize deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his cabinet as “the constitutional leaders of the transitional government” of Sudan.

Meanwhile, protests denouncing the army’s takeover continued in the capital Khartoum and elsewhere, with many businesses closed in response to calls for strikes as part of a civil disobedience campaign that has also seen protesters. blocking roads.

Reports say that hundreds of protesters threw stones at security forces dismantling street barricades in Khartoum’s eastern Burri district, while in the north of the capital, security personnel fired tear gas and rubber bullets at dozens of protesters.

“Neighborhoods and streets have been blocked by armored vehicles and men with rifles,” the Information Ministry, still loyal to Hamdok, said in a statement, also alleging that “women were dragged” to the ground.

“All the security on the streets now resembles the forces of the Bashir era,” a protester complained to the AFP news agency.

Neighborhood committees have announced plans for further protests, which will lead to what they said would be a “march of millions” on Saturday.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dissolved the transitional government and the Sovereign Council, the country’s main ruling body, on Monday when soldiers arrested several senior officials, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Despite the declaration of a state of emergency, tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of Khartoum and its sister city, Omdurman. The demonstrations were met with shots fired by the security forces, with at least seven people killed and dozens more injured, according to health sources.

In his first press conference since announcing the inauguration, al-Burhan said Tuesday that the army had no choice but to sideline politicians who were inciting people against the armed forces.

“The dangers we witnessed last week could have driven the country into civil war,” said al-Burhan, who also pledged to hold elections in July 2023 and appoint a technocratic government in the meantime.

Critics, however, doubt the military intention to eventually relinquish control, noting that the coup occurred just weeks before al-Burhan was supposed to hand over the leadership of the Sovereign Council to a civilian.

Volker Perthes, the United Nations special envoy for Sudan, met with al-Burhan on Wednesday and reiterated the UN’s call for a return to the transition process under the constitutional document and the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained.

Perthes also met Hamdok at his residence “where he remains under surveillance,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Envoys from France, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and the EU also visited Hamdok, who was reportedly in good health.

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