CAIRO (AP) — Military forces detained at least five senior Sudanese government figures on Monday, officials said, as the country’s main pro-democracy group called on people to take to the streets to counter an apparent military coup.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, a group leading demands for a transition to democracy, also said there were internet and phone signal outages across the country.

Sudan’s possible military takeover would represent a significant setback. The country has been struggling to transition to democracy ever since Omar al-Bashir, the long-serving autocrat, was overthrown by massive protests.

Monday’s arrests come after weeks of rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders. In September, a failed coup attempt led to the nation being divided along traditional lines. This pitted more conservative Islamists against those who overthrew al-Bashir in protests two years earlier. Both camps took to the streets in protests over recent days.

Two officials confirmed the arrests of five senior government officials. They spoke under oath because they weren’t authorized to talk to the media.

One young girl from Sudan takes part in the demonstration at Omdurman (the capital Khartoum’s twin) to demand that the government transition to civilian control on October 21st, 2021. As rival demonstrations continued to hold a sit in demanding the return of military rule, Sudan’s supporters marched the streets today. While the mainstream supports the transition to civilian control, the supporters of the rebel faction demand the military be taken over. Photo by Ebrahim HAD / AFP. (Photo via EBRAHIM IHAMID/AFP via Getty Images.
EBRAHIM MHAMID via Getty Images

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.

Despite media reports that Hamdok was being guarded at his Khartoum home, it wasn’t immediately obvious where he might be. Online photos showed uniformed men standing in darkness, near Hamdok’s home.

According to his official Facebook page, Ayman Khalid was arrested as governor of the state that contained Khartoum’s capital.

These arrests came after Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman met with Sudanese civilian and military leaders on Saturday and Sunday as part of efforts to end the conflict. 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.

“Metrics corroborate user reports network disruptions appearing consistent with an internet shutdown,” the advocacy group said. “The disruption is likely to limit the free flow of information online and news coverage of incidents on the ground.”


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