Indications of a military coup in Sudan targeting the country’s tenuous transitional government sparked the U.S. Embassy in the capital city, Khartoum, to urge Americans in the country to shelter in place Monday.
“The U.S. Embassy has received reports that armed forces are blocking certain areas in and around Khartoum. Internet in Khartoum is non-functional,” the embassy elaborated.
Reports out of the country suggest a coordinated military offensive to black out the internet in Khartoum, arrest key political figures and raid broadcast companies. A Reuters witness described members of the military and the country’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces stationed in the streets throughout the capital.
Military forces in the country have reportedly placed Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok under house arrest and have been urging him to come out in support of the coup.
The Umma Party, the country’s largest political party, called on people to take to the streets to counter the military, The Associated Press reported.
The BBC reported that Khartoum airport is closed, and international flights have been suspended.
A takeover by the military, backed by conservative Islamists, would be a major setback for Khartoum, which has grappled with a transition to democracy since long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled by mass protests in 2019. There was a failed coup attempt last month.
Jeffery Feltman, the U.S. envoy, had just visited the country in an attempt to cool tensions, Bloomberg reported.
Feltman said in the tweet posted by the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs that a coup would “contravene the Constitutional Declaration and the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people.”
He called the development “utterly unacceptable” and said any “changes to the transitional government by force puts at risk U.S. assistance.”
Under Hamdok and the transitional council, Sudan has slowly emerged from years of international pariah status under al-Bashir. The country was removed from the United States’ state supporter of terror list in 2020, opening the door for badly needed international loans and investment.
“I condemn the ongoing military coup in Sudan. Prime Minister Hamdok & all other officials must be released immediately,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres tweeted. “There must be full respect for the constitutional charter to protect the hard-won political transition. The UN will continue to stand with the people of Sudan.”
The U.S. provided about $337 million to support Sudan’s transitional government after the removal of al-Bashir, according to the National, a United Arab Emirates newspaper. The outlet reported that Feltman’s trip to the country on Saturday is his second in less than a month, which highlights “the level of engagement and concern” there is about a military takeover in Khartoum.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.