Sudan military-civilian tensions reach low point in wake of coup attempt

FILE PHOTO: Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in Berlin, Germany, February 14, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

CAIRO (Reuters) - Tensions between Sudan's military and civilian politicians reached a low point on Sunday in the wake of last week's attempted coup with senior officials calling on the public to prepare for protests over the withdrawal of official security details.

The deteriorating relations have put the fragile transition to democratic civilian rule in its most precarious position in the two years since the removal of former President Omar al-Bashir.

The long uncertain military and civilian partners in Sudan's transition have traded barbs following the coup attempt on Tuesday by soldiers loyal to Bashir. Generals have accused politicians of alienating the armed forces and failing to govern properly. Civilian officials have accused the military of agitating for a takeover of power.

On Sunday, members of the Committee to Dismantle the June 30, 1989 Regime and Retrieve Public Funds said that they were told in the morning that the military had withdrawn its protection from the committee's headquarters and 22 of its assets. The soldiers were replaced by police officers, they said.

The committee, whose purpose is to dismantle the political and financial apparatus of the ousted government, has been criticised by the military generals participating in the transition, who served under Bashir.

Mohamed Al-Faki Sulieman, committee leader and member of the joint military-civilian Sovereign Council, Sudan's highest authority, said his official protection had also been withdrawn.

Speaking to a large crowd who were chanting pro-revolution and anti-military rule slogans at the committee's headquarters, Sulieman asked people to be prepared to return to street protests if necessary.

"We will defend our government, our people, and the democratic transition to the last drop of blood, and if there is any threat to the democratic transition we will fill the streets and be at the forefront as is our responsibility," he said.

In a statement, the Sudanese Professionals Association, the body that helped lead the 2018-2019 uprising that led to Bashir's removal, called for the end of the partnership with the military.

Earlier in the day, sovereign council head General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said in a speech that the military would not stage a coup against the transition, but remained critical of civilian politicians.

In a statement late on Sunday civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok said the dispute "is not between the military and civilians, but between those who believe in the civilian democratic transition either military or civilian, and those who want to block the path from both sides."

(Reporting by Mahmoud Mourad and Nafisa Eltahir; editing by Grant McCool)

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