The prime minister of Sudan was arrested in a stunning military coup Monday morning, sparking mass protests in the capital city of Khartoum and elsewhere across the country while fueling even more chaos across the already dangerous, unstable Horn of Africa.
Just hours after Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other top government officials were taken into custody by military leaders, the U.S. Embassy in Sudan warned American citizens to shelter in place amid reports that armed forces were blocking roads in and around Khartoum. The unexpected coup came just weeks before the country was set to transition from its current transitional government to full civilian control.
But Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the nation’s military, said during a speech on national television that instead the military will remain in charge until elections are held in July 2023.
“The armed forces will continue completing the democratic transition until the handover of the country’s leadership to a civilian, elected government,” he said, adding that internal fighting between Sudanese political factions necessitated a takeover by the military.
Monday’s developments will further destabilize eastern Africa and could affect U.S. military policy on the continent. American forces already are embroiled in a long-running air campaign in nearby Somalia, where a fragile central government is clinging to power in the capital of Mogadishu but where huge swaths of the rest of the country are controlled by the al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab.
Sudan‘s neighbor to the east, Ethiopia, is in the midst of its own civil war.
If Sudan descends into complete chaos, that could open the door for an expansion of terrorist groups that already have a major foothold across Africa.