Sudanese military leaders said on Wednesday the civilian politicians they share power with had opened the door to a coup attempt by neglecting public welfare while they were consumed by internal squabbles.
A body known as the Sovereign Council has ruled Sudan under a fragile power-sharing deal between the military and civilians since the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in 2019 but their relationship has remained fractious since then.
Military authorities said on Monday they had detained 21 officers who had attempted to take power in the early hours of the day.
The threat appeared to have increased tensions between the partners.
Speaking at a military graduation in Omdurman, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Sovereign Council, and his deputy General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, accused the civilian politicians of seeking personal gains and forgetting the aims of the revolution.
“The politicians gave an opportunity for the coup because they neglected the citizen and his livelihood and basic services and were occupied with fighting over seats and divvying up positions,” Dagalo said, in unusually strong criticism of the civilian team.
Civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok said in an interview with newspaper al-Sudani late on Wednesday that “there is no excuse for a coup from any side, and if the citizens are dissatisfied then they will also not accept a coup. This kind of talk is astonishing.”
Khalid Omer Yousif, a civilian politician and minister of Cabinet affairs, also called the generals’ comments “astonishing” in an interview with Al Jazeera TV channel.
“What they said is a direct threat to the transition and a repetition of Sudan’s past experiences,” he added, referring to Sudan’s history of military coups, which he said the public would not accept.
The “Friends of Sudan,” a group that includes several Western powers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, condemned the coup attempt in a statement supporting the”civilian-led transitional process.”
After the coup attempt Hamdok reiterated calls to restructure the military and bring its business interests under civilian oversight, a key source of dispute, in a speech that did not emphasise military-civilian unity as he has done previously.
Political parties called on citizens to reject military rule and protect the revolution. Burhan called such statements “unacceptable”.
“Who should they rise to protect the revolution against? From us, the military? We are the ones who are protecting it from them, the ones who want to steal it.”
Burhan said the military was the group most interested in the transition to democracy and elections, scheduled for early 2024.
“They are occupied with fighting and yelling and are directing all their arrows at us,” he said.
Both men said they felt their forces were unappreciated.
“The military is met with humiliation and insults day and night, so how can there not be coups,” said Dagalo.