Sudan PM released by military after 24 hours

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Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok returned home on Tuesday, a day after he was detained as the army seized power in a coup that has claimed at least seven lives.

The release of Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and his wife followed international condemnation of the coup and calls for the military to release all the government officials who were detained when Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan seized power on Monday.

Burhan had said earlier Tuesday that Hamdok had been held for his own safety and would be released. But he warned that other members of the dissolved government could face trial as protests against the putsch continued in the streets.

This comes after the military seized power Monday in a move that was widely denounced abroad. On Tuesday, pro-democracy demonstrators blocked roads in the capital of Khartoum with makeshift barricades and burning tires.

In his second public appearance since seizing power, Burhan said Tuesday the military had been forced to step in to resolve a growing political crisis.

“There were people who were talking about discriminating against others, and that was driving this country to reach a civil war that would lead to the fragmentation of this country, tearing apart its unity, its fabric and society. These dangers were in front of us,” Burhan told a televised news conference.

The coup came less than a month before Burhan was supposed to hand the leadership of the Sovereign Council that runs the country to a civilian — a step that would have decreased the military’s hold on power.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok late on Tuesday and welcomed his release from custody, the U.S. State Department said.

Blinken reiterated his call on Sudanese military forces to release all civilian leaders in detention, the State Department said in a statement.

The UN Security Council met behind closed doors at 2000 GMT after Western powers, supported by their African counterparts, demanded the meeting.

Diplomats said members expressed concern about the volatile situation and indicated that negotiations about issuing a joint declaration were continuing.

A text could be adopted Tuesday evening or Wednesday, said one diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Unlike a first draft, it would no longer refer to denouncing the coup “in the strongest terms” but retains a condemnation of the putsch, said another diplomat.

It remains to be seen whether Russia and China — permanent members with veto power — will support the phrasing.

Before the meeting, Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, said the council “should appeal to stop the violence from all sides.”

“That’s the most important thing. Violence is unacceptable from all sides. Let’s work on some document and then we’ll see what we agree on. We are all preoccupied with what’s happening in Sudan,” he added.