Sudan minister says calls for return to pre-takeover government ‘unrealistic’

Efforts to reinstate democratic rule have so far fallen flat

Sudanese protest in Khartoum against the military coup that ousted the government last month. AP

A pro-military minister in Sudan says time is running out for the country’s deposed prime minister to agree to take a post in a military-led government after top generals seized power last month.

Security forces, meanwhile, opened fire on thousands of anti-coup protesters in the capital, Khartoum, and its twin city Omdurman, killing at least 15 people, according to doctors.

Wednesday’s tally was the highest daily count of people killed since the October 25 coup.

The crackdown on protesters has come as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Africa to boost as yet unsuccessful US diplomatic efforts to resolve the deepening conflicts in Ethiopia and Sudan.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is under house arrest in Khartoum. He and more than 100 other government officials were detained during the takeover. Many have been kept in undisclosed locations.

“The country cannot wait forever, so if he doesn’t take the job, then someone else will definitely take it,” Gibreil Ibrahim, the finance minister of the deposed government, told the Associated Press late Tuesday.

Speaking from his office in Khartoum, Ibrahim said calls by some pro-democracy groups, the US and its western allies to return the pre-takeover transitional government are “unrealistic”. Negotiations have focused on convincing Mr Hamdok to lead a technocratic Cabinet that runs day-to-day affairs, he said.

Mr Ibrahim, 66, is a rebel leader who joined the government earlier this year after the transitional administration reached a peace deal with a rebel alliance, ending years of civil war. He was one of those leading protests against Mr Hamdok and others in Khartoum before the top generals initiated their coup.

Authorities have shut bridges linking Khartoum and Omdurman, and tightened security across the capital. Security forces fired live ammunition and teargas at anti-coup protesters in at least one location in Khartoum, according to activists.

Attacks on health care facilities

The Sudan Doctors Committee said most of the killings took place in the capital’s district of Bahri. It said dozens were wounded, as security forces used what the committee called, “brutal repression” against protest rallies.

A spokesman for Sudanese police did not respond to calls for a comment.

The top US diplomat for Africa, Molly Phee, condemned the violence and called for “the respect and protection of human rights in Sudan”.

Magdy Mohamed Osman, a researcher with the Human Rights Watch in Sudan, said the developments show the military has taken “their power grab” to a new level. He said security forces have employed “extreme levels of brutality” against the protesters, including attacking health care facilities.

Wednesday’s fatalities brought the death toll since the October 25 coup to 39. Hundreds have also been wounded.

Updated: November 18th 2021, 5:26 AM