Sudan’s Burhan Says Coup Won’t Take Place as Security Forces’ Mutiny is Quelled

News Arab World 15.1.2020

Rapid Support Forces members are seen near the area where gunmen opened fire outside buildings used by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Khartoum, Sudan January 14, 2020. (Reuters)

Asharq Al-Awsat
Head of Sudan’s sovereign council Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan declared on Wednesday that the army succeeded in quelling a revolt by former employees of the National Intelligence and Security Service.

He vowed never to allow any coup to take place and added that the army was in control of all intelligence buildings.

The former security agents fought soldiers in the capital, Khartoum, for hours until government forces quelled the revolt late on Tuesday, residents and a military source said. The military said two soldiers were killed and four injured in the unrest.

The violence was the biggest confrontation yet between the old guard and supporters of the new administration, which helped topple president Omar al-Bashir in April after 30 years in power.

“All headquarters are under the army’s control, and the airspace is now open,” al-Burhan said.

“What happened on Tuesday is a revolt,” Mohamed Othman al-Hussein, the army chief of staff, said on Wednesday.

The two officers killed and four injured in putting down the revolt showed the military had been able to end it with minimal casualties, he added in a speech.

Sudan’s General Intelligence Service said the rebellious former members of its forces had been convinced “through negotiations” to hand over their weapons.

The agency said its former members had mutinied over severance pay.

Throughout the day, rogue intelligence officers fired live rounds into the air to express “their objections” to what they considered unfair severance benefits and to demand better financial compensation, according to the agency. It said the dispute stemmed from the reorganization of the country’s security apparatus amid an ongoing transitional period.

The prime minister of Sudan’s transitional government sought to reassure the people. “The events that occurred today are under control,” tweeted Abdallah Hamdok, a former World Bank economist. “We renew our confidence in the armed forces to contain the situation.”

In a protest over severance packages, the former employees of the National Intelligence and Security Service also shut two small oilfields in Darfur, a government source told Reuters. The fields had an output of around 5,000 barrels a day.

Restructuring the once feared security apparatus blamed for suppressing dissent under Bashir was among the key demands of the uprising that had forced his removal.

However, once dismissed by the new transitional government, many of the security agents returned to their barracks without being disarmed, after leaving the ministries and streets they once controlled.

In order to revive the country’s battered economy, the transitional government is looking to slash military spending by making peace with various rebel groups and reorganizing its security forces.

Deputy chief of the ruling Sovereign Council Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo blamed the intelligence agency for failing to disarm officers who had been dismissed and to deliver their severance pay on time. He accused notorious former intelligence chief Salah Gosh of trying to stir a revolt in the agency.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, a protest group that spearheaded the uprising against Bashir, said it rejected “any attempt to foment chaos, intimidate citizens and deploy weapons,” and demanded immediate state intervention.