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Sudanese Military Seizes Control in Bloodless Coup

June 30, 1989|From Associated Press

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Military forces said they seized power today by overthrowing the civilian government of Prime Minister Sadek Mahdi. No casualties were reported.

The coup leadership suspended the constitution, placed the country under a state of emergency and declared a nighttime curfew here, in the capital, Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported from here. Parliament and political parties were disbanded and newspaper licenses revoked, it said.

The agency identified the coup leader as Omar Hassan Ahmed el-Bashir and said he signed the decrees. The whereabouts of Mahdi was not known.

El-Bashir has been the third-ranking officer in the paratroop corps and previously commanded a unit in southern Sudan, according to the report.

El-Bashir appeared to be the man, identified as Brig. Gen. Omar Hassan, who announced the coup on official Radio Omdurman.

Paratroop and armored units staged the coup, according to the agency, and it indicated that the coup leaders were not from the top echelons of the Sudanese military command. "The coup leaders have designated the general command and army leaders as 'the former command,' " it said.

Soldiers occupied the presidential palace, cabinet offices, Radio Omdurman and the official Sudan News Agency. Khartoum International Airport and Sudanese airspace were declared closed.

The agency said "some political figures and Cabinet ministers" were arrested, but it was uncertain if they included Mahdi, who became prime minister after a May, 1986, general election.

A Western diplomat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said he had heard that the coup leaders tried to arrest the prime minister at his home in Khartoum but that Mahdi escaped.

A military statement said the coup was launched because political parties failed to lead the nation.

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