Sudan military leader fires six diplomats who criticised coup

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CAIRO: Sudan’s strongman fired at least six ambassadors, including the envoys to the US, the European Union and France, after they condemned the military’s takeover of the country, a military official said on Thursday.

The diplomats had pledged their support for the now-deposed government of Prime Minister Abddalla Hamdok. Their dismissal came hours before the United Nations Security council issued its first statement on recent events in the country, calling for the civilian transitional government to be restored to power and for those detained during the takeover to be released.

Also fired by Gen Abdel-Fattah Buran late on Wednesday were the Sudanese ambassadors to Qatar, China and the UN mission in Geneva, according to the official.

The ambassadors were fired two days after Burhan dissolved the transitional government and detained the prime minister, many government officials and political leaders in a coup condemned by the US and the West. The military allowed Hamdok to return home on Tuesday after international pressure for his release.

Burhan said the military forces were compelled to take over because of quarrels between political parties that he claimed could lead to civil war. However, the coup also comes just weeks before Burhan would have had to hand over the leadership of the Sovereign Council, the ultimate decision-maker in Sudan, to a civilian, in a step that would reduce the military’s hold on the country. The council has military and civilian members. Hamdok’s government ran Sudan’s daily affairs.

The coup threatens to halt Sudan’s fitful transition to democracy, which began after the 2019 ouster of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government in a popular uprising.

The takeover came after weeks of mounting tensions between military and civilian leaders over the course and pace of that process.

On Thursday, the UN Security Council issued its first reaction to the military’s actions. A press statement approved by all 15 council members went through several revisions, diplomats said, mainly to address objections from Russia, which did not want to condemn the military takeover as originally proposed in the British-drafted text — or use the word coup.

The final version instead expresses the Security Council’s serious concern about the military’s Oct 25 takeover.

Ali bin Yahia, a diplomat who was Sudan’s envoy in Geneva under the transitional government, was defiant after his dismissal.

I will spare no efforts to reverse the situation, explain facts and resist the blackout imposed by coup officials on what is happened my beloved country, he said in video comments posted online.

Nureldin Satti, the Sudanese envoy to the US, said he was working with Sudanese diplomats in Brussels, Paris, Geneva and New York to resist the military coup in support of the heroic struggle of the Sudanese people to achieve the aims of the uprising against al-Bashir.

Activists have been circulating videos on social media showing mostly empty streets in the capital, with many stores closed on Thursday. Earlier, protesters called for a national strike to pressure the military to relinquish power.

Earlier this week, a group of over 30 Sudanese diplomats in and outside Sudan condemned the military’s takeover in a joint statement, saying that the ambassadors in Belgium, Switzerland and France had pledged their continued allegiance to the Hamdok government.

The Ministry of Culture and Information, still loyal to Hamdok, said in a Facebook post that the ambassador to South Africa is also part of this group.

In another development, Burhan fired Adlan Ibrahim, head of the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, according to the official. Adlans dismissal came after the resumption of flights in and out of Khartoum’s international airport resumed on Wednesday.

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