1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
A person wearing a Sudan's flag stand in front of a burning pile of tyres during a protest against prospect of military rule in Khartoum
Protests against the military coup are continuing for a third straight dayImage: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/REUTERS

African Union suspends Sudan after military coup

October 27, 2021

The African Union has suspended Sudan's participation in activities until the restoration of a civilian-led authority. The World Bank has also suspended funding as the military becomes more internationally isolated.

The African Union (AU) on Wednesday suspended Sudan from all its activities until civilian rule is restored in the country.

The continent-wide bloc said it "strongly condemns the seizure of power," branding it "unconstitutional."

It said Sudan would be suspended from all AU activities "until the effective restoration of the civilian-led transitional authority."

Sudanese General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan had on Monday ordered the dissolution of the government and declared a state of emergency. Since then, thousands of citizens have mounted protests, chanting "No to military rule."

Military relieves ambassadors

On Wednesday evening, General Burhan announced that six Sudanese ambassadors were relieved of their posts, state television reported.

Included were Sudan's ambassadors to the United States, the European Union, China, Qatar, France and the head of Sudan's mission to Geneva.

Earlier Wednesday, the EU Delegation to Sudan made a joint statement that also included Switzerland and the so-called "troika" of countries involved in mediation — Norway, the US, and the UK.

It condemned the military's actions, but welcomed the fact that coup leaders had allowed Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok to return to his residence

Also on Wednesday, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called the coup a "catastrophic development" and condemned it "in the strongest possible terms."

Hamdok meets with international envoys

Hamdok was detained Monday along with his ministers and civilian members of Sudan's ruling council. He returned to his residence on Tuesday.

The EU statement demanded that signatories' ambassadors be allowed to meet the prime minister and his cabinet, saying it recognized them as constitutional leaders.

Later Wedesday, the UN reported that envoys from France, Germany, Norway, the UK, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations met with Hamdok at his residence and reported he was in good health.

World Bank halts funding 

Amid international condemnation of the coup, the World Bank said on Wednesday it would suspend disbursements for operations in Sudan in response to the military's seizure of power. 

"I am greatly concerned by recent events in Sudan, and I fear the dramatic impact this can have on the country's social and economic recovery and development," World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement from Washington.

In March 2021, Sudan had gained access to $2 billion in financing after years of isolation during autocratic rule. 

What is the current situation in Sudan?

The prime minister and his wife were returned home "under close surveillance," Hamdok's office said Tuesday. However, other ministers and civilian leaders remain under full military arrest.

Hamdok's return did little to appease protesters who had backed the planned transition to civilian rule.

Their demonstrations continued on Wednesday, despite security forces making several arrests and tearing down makeshift barricades in Khartoum.

The EU statement addressed reports of security service using live ammunition and tear gas against protestors.

A doctors' group said four people were killed on Monday when soldiers opened fire on protesters.

Internet services have been blocked with shops around the capital closed after calls for a campaign of civil disobedience.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a group of unions that was instrumental in the protests against Bashir has also urged "million-strong protests" on October 30.

Sudan's Khartoum airport, which has been closed to flights, was set to reopen on Wednesday afternoon, according to the country's civil aviation authority.

What is the background to the Sudan coup?

The coup followed a two-year transition outlined in a power-sharing deal agreed in August 2019 between the military and civilians.

Resistance to the coup in Sudan

Protests and unrest have erupted in the streets of Khartoum after the military in Sudan announced the dissolution of the transitional government and arrested Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok.

Image: AFP/Getty Images

The military appeases

The commander general of the Sudanese armed forces justified the coup by saying that there had been a threat to peace and security in Sudan. The democratic course is supposed to be continued after power was transferred to a civilian elected government. Elections should take place as planned in July 2023. International observers fear that this declaration will not hold.

Image: AFP/Getty Images

The people take to the streets

Thousands of pro-democracy supporters protested against the military's actions in the capital Khartoum on October 25, 2021. There had already been an attempted coup in Sudan in September. Since then, political tensions in the country had risen dramatically.

Image: Ashraf Idris/AP Photo/picture alliance

Deadly protests

Violence broke out during the protests: Car tires burned in Khartoum on Monday, roads were blocked. Seven people were killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces, according to the Ministry of Health. Protests continued Tuesday, with tanks blocking bridges and major roads in the capital.

Image: AFP/Getty Images

Prime minister detained

The military arrested acting Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok (pictured above), along with several other ministers, on Monday. Sudan's top general, Abdel Fattah Burhan, said that Hamdok was being held in his own home and was unharmed. On Tuesday evening, Hamdok was able to return home. Cellular and landline service remained largely shut down on Tuesday.

Image: picture alliance/dpa/XinHua

Strikes and resistance throughout the country

All over Sudan, people are taking to the streets, as here in Omdurman. There is increasing resistance to the military in other areas: According to media reports, employees of the central bank have gone on strike. The Sudanese doctors' union wrote on Facebook that doctors throughout the country should refuse to work in military hospitals, except in emergencies.

Image: AFP/Getty Images

Divided population

Not all Sudanese are behind the democratic transition process. Parts of the armed rebel groups would rather see a military government in power than a civilian one, Theodore Murphy, director of Africa programs at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told DW. "They see that a democratic future is unlikely to work out in their favor."

Image: AFP/Getty Images

Hope for democracy

In May, Sudan received billions in debt relief in order to support its transition to democracy. But now, after the coup, a period of instability lies ahead. Western countries have threatened to stop aid payments if the imprisoned politicians are not released and civilian forces are not allowed to participate in the government.

Image: AFP/Getty Images
7 images

This followed the ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir on the back of mass protests against his rule. 

Sudan had found itself isolated after nearly three decades of isolation under Bashir, and it remains one of the world's most underdeveloped countries.

In particular, it fell into pariah status as Washington imposed tough sanctions on Bashir's regime for sheltering Islamic extremists, including al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in the 1990s.

The African Union suspended Sudan in June 2019 after pro-democracy protesters were gunned down outside army headquarters in Khartoum.

Membership was reinstated 3 months later after Hamdok announced the appointment of Sudan's first cabinet since the ousting of Bashir.

New strongman Burhan has pledged to hold elections as planned in July 2023. In the meantime, a technocrat government would be appointed.

Sudan has experienced only rare democratic interludes since independence from Britain in 1956.

ab,wmr,rc/rt (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Skip next section More stories from DW

More stories from DW

Go to homepage