Sudan coup: A really simple guide

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Sudanese protesters flash victory signs and lift national flags as they demonstrate on 60th Street in the capital Khartoum, to denounce overnight detentions by the army of government members, on October 25, 2021.Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Protesters backing the civilian leaders have been out on the streets of the capital

The coup taking place in Sudan, where the prime minister and his cabinet have been arrested and the government dissolved, is the latest crisis in a turbulent period for the country.

On top of the political tensions, Sudan's economy has been in a deep crisis, with high inflation and shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

The coup has alarmed many international powers who have only recently been forging relations with Sudan after years of isolation.

Here is what you need to know.

What's the background to the coup?

Military and civilian leaders have been sharing power since August 2019 after Sudan's long-term authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown.

Bashir was toppled by the military but mass street demonstrations demanding civilian rule forced the military to negotiate a plan aimed at moving to a democratic government.

The country is now supposed to be in that transition, with civilians and military leaders running the country together on a joint committee known as the Sovereign Council.

But the two groups have been publicly at odds.

What's behind the tension?

Military leaders in the transitional government have demanded reforms from their civilian counterparts and called for the cabinet to be replaced. This was dismissed as a power grab by civilian leaders.

There have been several failed coups since 2019, the most recent of them just last month.

The top civilian figure, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, blamed Bashir loyalists - many of whom are said to be embedded in the military, security services and other state institutions.

And recent weeks saw pro-army demonstrators bussed into the capital Khartoum, as well as large spontaneous counter-protests backing the prime minister.

The pro-military protesters accused the government of failing to revive the country's fortunes.

Mr Hamdok's moves to reform the economy - including slashing fuel subsidies - have been unpopular with some.

Sudan's political frailty has a long precedent.

In previous decades the splintering of political parties and their inability to build consensus has time and again paved the way for the military to step in, mounting coups under the pretext of restoring order - as regional analyst Magdi Abdelhadi writes.

Today in Sudan, there are at least 80 political parties.

This same factionalism plagued the Sovereign Council, where internal divisions among both the military and civilian camps pushed political consensus yet further out of reach.

What is happening now?

The head of the Sovereign Council has given a speech announcing a state of emergency and dissolving both the cabinet and the council.

Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan also said elections would be held in July 2023.

Prime Minister Hamdok was reportedly detained by soldiers earlier in the day, along with several other ministers. It also appears that the state TV and radio headquarters have been taken over by the military.

The internet has also been restricted.

The African Union, the UN and the EU, as well as the Arab League and the US, have expressed deep concern over Monday's coup.

What might happen next?

The coup is not necessarily a "done deal", suggests Africa analyst Alex de Waal, given Sudan's "tremendous capacity for civic mobilisation".

Whenever the military has tried to overstep the mark "the street mobilised and pulled them back - and I suspect that is what we are going to see now", he told BBC Newshour.

According to the information ministry's Facebook page, the prime minister has called on people to come out in support of the government.

Pictures and reports coming out of Khartoum show demonstrators out in the city.

The military have also been deployed to restrict movements.

In June 2019, before the democratic transition was agreed, soldiers opened fire on protesters in Khartoum killing at least 87 people.

Memories of that massacre will be playing on the minds of people as the two sides confront each other.

Media caption,

What happened during the June 2019 massacre?

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