The United States removed Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism last year, and backed a $50 billion debt relief program announced in June. In recent weeks, the Biden administration loudly voiced its support for civilian rule in Sudan and, over the weekend, sent its top regional envoy, Jeffrey Feltman, to Khartoum to dissuade the military leadership from seizing power.
Three hours after Mr. Feltman had left, Sudan’s generals made their move.
The White House condemned Tuesday’s coup and suspended $700 million in emergency economic aid to Sudan, intended to support the democratic transition — a vital lifeline in a country laboring under a grinding economic crisis.
“We reject the actions by the military and call for the immediate release of the prime minister and others who have been placed under house arrest,” Karine Jean-Pierre, a spokeswoman for President Biden, told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Still, there was little sign that Sudan’s generals would relent.
Before dawn, they arrested Abdalla Hamdok, 65, a technocrat turned prime minister, along with his wife, then held him at an undisclosed location after he refused to endorse the coup. Others civilian leaders were also imprisoned.
Before becoming prime minister, Mr. Hamdok had worked for many years for the United Nations, most recently as deputy executive secretary of its Economic Commission for Africa from 2011 to 2018.
The arrests happened weeks before General al-Burhan, who leads the Sovereignty Council overseeing the democratic transition, was scheduled to surrender that position to a civilian — which would have put Sudan under full civilian control for the first time since 1989.
Instead, he dissolved the Sovereignty Council and effectively declared himself the country’s leader. He did, however, vow to press ahead with elections that he promised to hold in July 2023.