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Sudan leaders' whereabouts unknown after coup: Lawyer

Published: Updated:

A Sudanese lawyer representing civilian leaders detained in the country's military coup last week said Monday their whereabouts is unknown and that they are in a “dangerous legal situation”.

A week ago, soldiers detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, his ministers and civilian leaders who had been heading Sudan's democratic transition following the 2019 overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

A team of lawyers has since come forward to represent them with the backing of their families.

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“We went to the criminal investigation prosecution where they were believed to have been held but we found that they were not there,” said Kamal al-Gizouli, the lead defence lawyer.

Gizouli expressed concern about the wellbeing of the detainees and called on those holding them to reveal their location.

“These detainees are in the most dangerous legal situation” since nothing was known about their case nor who was heading the investigation, he added.

A day after the October 25 coup, Sudan's top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dissolved the cabinet as well as the ruling Sovereign Council of military and civilian figures.

Hamdok is currently under effective house arrest, but little is known about the rest of his cabinet and the members of the council that had been tasked with paving the way to full civilian rule.

Burhan had since August 2019 chaired the council, working alongside Hamdok's government under a power-sharing deal that outlined the post-Bashir transition.

The arrangement came under strain, however, as splits deepened between the civilians and the military amid factional infighting.

In a news conference last week, Burhan defended the military's takeover, saying it was “not a coup” but a move to “rectify the course of the transition”.

The general also said the detainees were being kept in “a decent place” and that those facing charges “will be moved to where the accused are usually taken while the rest will be released.”

Sudanese and international efforts have been made to mediate a way out of the crisis since the coup.

“We call on all sides mediating to resolve the crisis to demand that the whereabouts of these ministers and politicians be known,” said Gizouli.

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