Sudan PM detained in coup must be released: UN chief

Sudan PM detained in coup must be released ‘immediately': UN chief
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Antonio Guterres has called for the Sudanese prime minister to be released, following his arrest during a military coup.
Antonio Guterres said the Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok must be 'immediately released' [Getty]

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Tuesday for the immediate release of Sudan's prime minister, who was detained in a military coup.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok "must be released immediately," Guterres told a press conference as the UN Security Council prepared to hold an emergency meeting on the putsch in Sudan.

On Monday soldiers detained Hamdok, his ministers and civilian members of Sudan's ruling council, who have been heading a transition to full civilian rule following the 2019 overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Guterres said "geopolitical divides" were preventing the Security Council from taking strong measures as countries around the world grapple with the pandemic and social and economic problems.

"These factors are creating an environment in which some military leaders feel that they have total impunity, they can do whatever they want because nothing will happen to them," Guterres said.

"My appeal is for especially the big powers to come together for the unity of the Security Council in order to make sure that there is effective deterrence in relation with this epidemic of coups d'etat" in Africa and Asia, he said.

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"We have seen that effective deterrence today is not in place. We have seen it in Myanmar and we have also seen it in several African locations," Guterres said, alluding to Guinea and Mali.

The Security Council was to hold a closed door meeting on Sudan starting at 2000 GMT.

Diplomats said the idea of issuing a statement has been under discussion since Monday but it is not clear if Russia and China -- permanent members with veto power -- would allow one to be passed.