The UN human rights chief strongly condemned Monday’s military coup in Sudan, saying the actions threaten a peace agreement hammered out for the country and jeopardize the progress made toward democracy.
In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said: “I strongly condemn today’s military coup in Sudan and the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency, the suspension of key articles of the Constitutional Document and the governing bodies.”
“These actions threaten the Juba Peace Agreement and jeopardize the important progress made towards democracy and respect for human rights,” she said, referring to the 2020 accord.
Officials in Khartoum said earlier on Monday that the Sudanese military had arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and members of his government.
The Information Ministry said the military arrested Hamdok after he refused to support what it described as a “coup”.
In a statement, the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) called for a general strike and civil disobedience in protest against the military takeover.
Tensions escalated between the military and civilian politicians since a failed coup attempt in Sudan last month.
“I utterly deplore the reported arrest of the prime minister, several ministers, leaders of the Forces of the Freedom and Change (FFC), and other civil society representatives, and call for their immediate release,” said Bachelet.
Abide by constitutional order
“The military authorities must abide by the constitutional order and applicable international law, withdraw from the streets, and resolve any differences they have with the civilian component of the Transitional Council through dialogue and negotiation,” she said.
The rights chief said that blanket internet shutdowns contravened international law, demanding that internet and mobile services must be restored, as they are essential for people to receive information, “particularly in these unsettling circumstances”.
She reminded the military and security forces to refrain from unnecessary and disproportionate use of force and respect people’s right to freedom of expression, as well as the right to peaceful assembly.
“It would be disastrous if Sudan goes backward after finally bringing an end to decades of repressive dictatorship,” said Bachelet.
She said the northeast African country needs to move forward to consolidate democracy, a wish expressed by the Sudanese people “loudly and clearly on the streets last week and today”.
Until the military took the power, Sudan was administered by a Sovereign Council of military and civilian authorities, overseeing the transition period until elections slated for 2023, as part of a precarious power-sharing pact between the military and the FFC coalition.