Sudan: Revealed, Why Islamists Hatched the Coup

The coup in Sudan was hatched to foil transition to democracy in the country, security sources have said. The country’s army chief and at least a dozen high-ranking army officers and Islamists have been arrested in a second coup plot.

Sudan’s military is insisting that it was a plot to restore the party of ousted autocrat President Omar al-Bashir to power, who is despised for his iron-fisted rule and repression on women.

According to the military, ‘’the failed attempt aims to abort our glorious revolution and to return the former National Congress regime to power, and to disrupt the path before the expected political solution that aims to establish a civilian state.’’

This was the second coup plot reported this month in Sudan, where talks between the military and the country’s pro-democracy movement have dragged out over the final and crucial part of a power-sharing deal for the country’s transitional period.

Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) arrested Wednesday senior army officers on charges of ‘’planning for a coup’’. The arrests included leaders belonging to the Islamic movement, according to a Sudanese security source.

The source explained that the campaign of arrests included two symbolic figures of the former regime. The arrested officers had been moving since late Tuesday evening to implement the plan, the source pointed out.

Sudanese media including the state-run news agency SUNA however, said the arrested included the Chief of the Sudanese Joint Staff, General Hashim Abdul Muttalib Babakir, the Commander of the Armoured Corps, Major General Nasruddin Abdul Fattah, and the Commander of the Central Region, around which the army headquarters is located, Major General Bahruddin Ahmed Bahr.

The TMC also arrested several Islamists leaders loyal to al-Bashir. They included former Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti and the Secretary-General of the Islamic Movement Al-Zubair Ahmed Al-Hassan. Babakir was appointed chief-of-staff just days after al-Bashir’s ouster following months of street protests against the president’s 30-year rule.

Since April, Babakir had appeared loyal to Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling TMC, and only last week visited Egypt with a top-level Sudanese delegation. Others among those newly arrested were officers working for Sudan’s military and the national intelligence and security services.

Statement from the Sudanese military said the coup attempt involved General Hashim Abdel Mottalib Ahmed, head of the joint chiefs of staff; a number of high-ranking officers from the armed forces and the National Intelligence and Security Service; and leaders of the National Congress Party and the Islamic Movement party, which Bashir headed.

Now detained General Saleh served as first vice president and prime minister until months before Bashir was ousted, sources close to the military council said. He was a leading figure in the 1989 coup that brought Bashir to power and was one of his closest confidants throughout his 30-year rule.

Detained was Ali Karty, an influential former foreign minister is widely believed to currently head the Islamic Movement, sources with knowledge of the matter said. He became Sudan’s central Islamist figure after Bashir was forced out.

Detained Al-Zubair Ahmed Hassan, a former finance minister, was secretary-general of the Islamic Movement until Bashir’s was deposed, the sources said. “Investigations with them are occurring so that they can be tried,” the military said.

It was not clear when the attempt coup happened, but the military’s statement said it had been monitoring a failed coup attempt in the “past weeks” and was now uncovering its details.

Sudan’s military council said on July 11 it had thwarted a coup attempt. That was the first coup attempt to foil the country’s transition to democracy. The military said the coup attempt involved a number of retired officers as well as officers still in service.

The TMC said it arrested at least 16 active and retired military officers over an attempted coup. On that occasion, the military’s statement said: “Leaders from Islamic Movement and the National Congress Party” of Bashir were also arrested.

At that time, the military said security forces were looking for the mastermind. They stand accused of trying to “help return the former National Congress Party’s regime to power”, according to the military statement.

Later on Wednesday, state television broadcast a prepared video statement allegedly recorded by Abdel Mottalib and meant to be broadcast after the coup was successfully carried out. “We announce that the armed forces have seized power and appointed a prime minister to lead the executive power in the country for a transitional period that will not last more than two years,” says Abdel Mottalib, wearing a military uniform and reading from the statement.

The latest alleged coup attempt came as the ruling generals were negotiating a power-sharing deal with protest leaders to form a joint civilian-military governing body. The accord was signed on July 17 but the two sides have yet to thrash out some key issues, including justice for demonstrators killed during months of protests.

Some 246 people have been killed in protest-related violence since demonstrations first erupted in December against Bashir’s regime, according to doctors linked to the protest movement.

Of those killed, 127 died on June 3 when armed men in military fatigues violently dispersed a weeks-long protest camp outside the military headquarters in Khartoum. The ruling generals have denied they ordered the dispersal, which triggered international outrage.

Sudan’s ruling generals and pro-democracy factions have yet to sign the second, final part of the power-sharing deal. They signed a political declaration that outlines the deal last week, after agreeing on a joint sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organized.

The second, more contentious part of the power-sharing deal — the so-called constitutional agreement — is meant to specify the division of powers during the transitional period. But that part has now stalled.

Leaders of the pro-democracy movement, known as the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, have been meeting in Ethiopia with leaders of the Revolutionary Front, an alliance of Sudanese rebel groups who are also part of the movement. The Revolutionary Front had rejected the power-sharing deal, arguing it fails to meet their demands for peace.

For decades, Sudan has been convulsed by rebellions in the provinces by ethnic and religious minorities who felt marginalized or oppressed by the Khartoum government, which is dominated by northern Sudanese Arab Muslims.

The Revolutionary Front includes rebel groups from Darfur as well as Blue Nile and South Kordofan provinces. It is working with an alliance of protest and opposition groups to finalize a power-sharing deal for a three-year transition towards elections, a process that has repeatedly stalled. They are due to resume talks this Saturday.

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