Sudanese authorities on Tuesday cut internet service and imposed a tight cover of the capital Khartoum as the country marks a year since the coup that toppled the transitional government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
Processions against military rule were expected as has been the case every week since October 25 last year.
Khartoum State Government also declared an official holiday in all government and private institutions while the authorities deployed reinforcements from the army and police in the central Khartoum area. They also closed all roads leading to the Presidential Palace and the General Command of the Army, the headquarters of the military.
But an analysis by internet service watchdog Net Blocks said there had been internet disruption for most of Tuesday.
“Confirmed: Live metrics show a nation-scale internet disruption in #Sudan; the incident comes amid planned pro-democracy protests on the first anniversary of the 25 Oct 2021 military coup that seized power from the transitional government,” the watchdog tweeted.
All Nile bridges closed
The authorities also announced the closure of all Nile bridges linking the central Khartoum area with the rest of the cities of the state, except for the Soba and Halfaya bridges. In a statement published by the state news agency, the Khartoum State Security Committee stressed said it was keen “to protect the participants in peaceful processions and marches that express the will of the youth,” noting that “the security services are working to save the lives and property of citizens.”
No formal government
Sudan has been without a formal government since, and the authorities are controlled by the junta leader Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who is the chairman of the Sovereignty Council. His bid to re-form a transitional government have often fallen through as civilian movements reject any role for the military in the transitional government.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Sudanese people must be given their democratic aspirations, praising civilian movements “who continue to demand freedom, peace, and justice under a democratic government and remember those who died while pursuing those goals”.
“The Sudanese people have shown themselves as unshakeable in their aspiration for a civilian-led government that shows respect for their dignity and is responsive to their needs. The continued willingness of Sudanese protests, often in the face of violent suppression by security forces, to demonstrate in support of an end to military rule is deeply inspiring.”
Blinken said only an inclusive initiative to find an exit from Sudan’s political crisis that ends military rule and restores the country’s democratic transition will be sufficient.
“We continue to support the UN, AU, and IGAD Tripartite Mechanism and urge all Sudanese actors to prioritise engaging constructively in dialogue,” said the US top diplomat, referring to a joint bid by the United Nations, the African Union and regional bloc the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Reject military rule
“We stand ready to use all the tools at our disposal against those who seek to derail progress toward Sudan’s democratic transition. As we did a year ago, we continue to reject military rule and stand with the people of Sudan in their demands for freedom, peace, and justice for all Sudanese,” the statement said.
Events have accelerated in Sudan since the morning of October 25, 2021, with deterioration in the political and economic situation while security is out of control in a number of states.
On October 25, the army chief declared a state of emergency, suspended a number of articles of the constitution, dissolved the Sovereign and Ministerial Councils ostensibly to “correct the course of the revolution” that ousted former president Omar al-Bashir.
On his first day, Al-Burhan vowed to form a government of independent technocrats, achieve the requirements of justice and transition, and form a constitution-drafting commission. He also pledged to form an electoral commission, a council of the high judiciary, a constitutional court, and a parliament, and set the end of the month following the coup, last November, as a deadline for the implementation of those promises, according to his first statement.
But a year has passed since the coup and its promises and al-Burhan has been unable to implement any of the previous promises.
The country continues in a state of constitutional vacuum that may be the longest in the history of Sudan.