Security forces in Sudan have moved Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to an unknown location after he refused to issue a statement in support of an ongoing coup, the information ministry said, as soldiers also rounded up several members of the country’s civilian leadership.
The ministry’s statement on Monday came hours after Dubai-based Al-Hadath TV said security forces had besieged the prime minister’s home and placed him under house arrest.
“After he refused to be a part of the coup, a force from the army detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and took him to an unidentified location,” the ministry statement said.
Family sources told Al Jazeera the other civilian officials taken into custody include Industry Minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh, and the governor of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, Ayman Khalid.
The men were taken from their homes before dawn, said al-Sheikh’s daughter and Khalid’s wife.
Information Minister Hamza Baloul, media adviser to the prime minister, Faisal Mohammed Saleh, and the spokesman for Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, Mohammed al-Fiky Suliman, were also arrested, officials told The Associated Press news agency.
Sudan has been on edge since a failed coup plot last month unleashed bitter recriminations between military and civilian groups meant to be sharing power following the toppling of the country’s long-time leader Omar al-Bashir.
Al-Bashir was toppled after months of street protests in 2019, and a political transition agreed after his removal was meant to lead to elections by the end of 2023.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said “telecommunications access has been restricted” in the country “so it’s very hard to communicate with people here”.
“The military has also blocked all roads and bridges leading into Khartoum city. We’ve seen soldiers blocking access and they are telling us these are the orders they got. They are saying access to Khartoum city is to be restricted, and this is raising concern because that’s where the government institutions are, that’s where the presidential palace and the prime minister’s offices are located.”
There was no immediate comment from the military, with Sudanese state television broadcasting patriotic songs and images of the Nile river.
Al Hadath said Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council was soon expected to make a statement on Monday’s developments. Al-Burhan had previously asserted his commitment to Sudan’s transition.
Meanwhile, the Sudanese Professional’s Association (SPA), the country’s main pro-democratic political group, described the military’s moves as an apparent military coup and called on the public to take to the streets.
“We urge the masses to go out on the streets and occupy them, close all roads with barricades, stage a general labour strike, and not to cooperate with the putschists and use civil disobedience to confront them,” the SPA said in a statement.
The Reuters and AFP news agencies said protesters, some carrying the national flag, took to the streets of Khartoum in response to the SPA’s call. Some of them burned tires.
Last week, tens of thousands of Sudanese marched in several cities to back the full transfer of power to civilians, and to counter a rival days-long sit-in outside the presidential palace in Khartoum demanding a return to “military rule”.
Hamdok has previously described the splits in the interim government as the “worst and most dangerous crisis” facing Sudan’s transition.