*As World Bank freezes aid to Sudan
*EU, U.S. request access to ousted Sudanese premier
The African Union said on Wednesday it had suspended Sudan until civilian rule in the country is restored, saying it rejected the military takeover as an “unconstitutional” seizure of power.
The continent-wide bloc said it “strongly condemns the seizure of power” and was suspending Sudan from all AU activities “until the effective restoration of the civilian-led transitional authority”.
Sudanese General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Monday ordered the dissolution of the government and declared a state of emergency, sparking widespread international condemnation.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was placed under military arrest, along with his ministers and civilian members of Sudan’s ruling council, sparking angry protests on the streets of Khartoum.
Hamdok was later released under close guard, but other ministers and civilian leaders remain in detention.
Security forces launched sweeping arrests of anti-coup protesters on Wednesday, in a bid to end three days of demonstrations against the power grab.
A number of Western powers have called for an urgent meeting with Hamdok, saying they still recognise the prime minister and his cabinet as the constitutional leaders of Sudan.
The AU suspended Sudan in June 2019 after pro-democracy protesters demanding civilian rule were gunned down outside army headquarters in Khartoum.
Their membership was reinstated three months later after Hamdok announced the appointment of Sudan’s first cabinet since the ousting of veteran leader Omar al-Bashir.
Meanwhile, the World Bank said Wednesday it has suspended aid to Sudan following the military takeover that deposed the prime minister.
“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.
It was the latest blow to the impoverished African nation that had just won its way back into good standing with major Washington-based development lenders after years in the wilderness.
The World Bank “paused disbursements in all of its operations in Sudan on Monday and it has stopped processing any new operations as we closely monitor and assess the situation,” Malpass added.
The United States also suspended aid to the country.
“We hope that peace and the integrity of the transition process will be restored, so that Sudan can restart its path of economic development and can take its rightful place in the international financial community,” Malpass said.
Sudan had been emerging from decades of stringent US sanctions after Washington removed the country from its state sponsor of terrorism blacklist in December 2020, eliminating a major hurdle to much-needed aid and financial investment.
The World Bank and IMF in June granted Sudan debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, cutting the nation’s debt in half to about $28 billion, and the institutions have offered additional help if economic reforms continue.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU), United States (U.S.), and other countries are urgently requesting a meeting with Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdullah Hamdok, who was ousted during Sudan’s military coup early this week.
Hamdok has returned to his home under heavy guard, according to his staff.
In a joint statement released by the countries’ Embassies in Sudan, diplomats said it is paramount for the ambassadors based in Khartoum, to be able to communicate with the prime minister.
“We therefore urgently request to be able to meet with the prime minister.’’
Repeating calls for unhindered humanitarian access to Sudan during the political turmoil, the joint statement called on security forces and other armed elements to “refrain from violent attacks” and for peaceful protesters to be protected.
The military coup on Monday came after many weeks of protests and political crisis in the East African country.
Hamdok had led a transitional government together with military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan since August 2019 after Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s strongman leader for 30 years, was removed from power in a separate coup following months of mass protest.