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Sudanese coup regime detains three more democracy advocates as protests and strikes continue

SUDAN’S coup regime detained three prominent pro-democracy figures overnight, their relatives said today.

The activists taken overnight were Ismail al-Taj, a leader of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, the group at the forefront of the protests that brought down Omar al-Bashir; Sediq al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, a leader in Sudan’s largest political party, known as Umma and brother of Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi; and Khalid al-Silaik, a former media adviser to the prime minister.

Protests continued in Khartoum and other cities against the army putsch and strikes shuttered businesses across the country. The military was accused of continuing to fire on demonstrators, having killed six so far.

The arrests indicate there is no softening of military control, despite the army allowing deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his wife to return home on Tuesday night, following his arrest during the seizure of power on Monday.

The African Union suspended Sudan from membership, saying the suspension would last until the “civilian-led transitional authority” was restored.

A group of Western embassies in Khartoum, including those of Britain, France, the United States and the European Union, announced their continued recognition of Mr Hamdok and his cabinet as “the constitutional leaders of the transitional government of Sudan.” 

But army chief Abdel-Fattah Burhan is believed to have a close ally in neighbouring Egypt, the country in which he did his military training and which is itself ruled by a general-turned-president who seized power by force, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

He is also close to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and a key political player in the United Arab Emirates, having paid him multiple visits since the 2019 revolution that ousted Sudan’s longtime dictator Bashir.

Former US State Department official Cameron Hudson said the Sudanese army could expect support for its takeover from the Gulf states, which are “fearful of what an Arab Spring success story looks like.” 

Sudan’s military, having moved to depose Mr Bashir when the uprising against him appeared unstoppable, had been forced to share power with a Sovereign Council, including representatives of popular forces.

This council was dissolved by Gen Burhan on Monday, though he claims to be sticking to a timetable setting elections for 2023.

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