Sudan's fragile transitional government said it foiled an attempted coup Tuesday involving military officers and civilians linked to the ousted regime of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
In a televised speech, he said the plotters had "made extensive preparations, which were showcased in the security breakdown in cities... blocking of national roads, closure of ports and persistent instigation against the civilian government".
Information Minister Hamza Baloul later announced the coup attempt had been thwarted.
The leaders of the coup attempt have been arrested, a government spokesman said on state TV, adding that "remnants" of the regime of the ousted Bashir participated in the attempt.
The ruling body known as the Sovereign Council has run Sudan under a fragile power-sharing deal between the military and civilians following Bashir's overthrow.
It plans to hold free elections in 2024.
Demonstrators say 'No to coup'
Sudan's army commander and head of the sovereign council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan visited the military camp in south Khartoum where the coup attempt reportedly began.
"Had it succeeded, the attempt could have had devastating consequences on the unity of the army, security forces, and the country," he said.
State television had aired patriotic songs and urged people to "confront" the coup attempt.
In Khartoum, traffic flowed smoothly, including around the army headquarters, where protesters staged a months-long sit-in that eventually led to Bashir's overthrow in a palace coup by the army in 2019.
Anti-coup demonstrations broke out in several cities.
At Port Sudan in the east, protesters raised Sudanese flags and chanted "No to military rule" and "No to coup", eyewitness Mohamed Hassan said.
UN chief condemns coup attempt
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday condemned the coup attempt, calling on the African nation to preserve the gains of its democratic transition.
Guterres "condemns the attempted coup d'etat in Khartoum," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
"The secretary-general calls on all parties to remain committed to the transition and the realization of the aspirations of the Sudanese people for an inclusive, peaceful, stable and democratic future."
Britain, Norway and the US also voiced "strong support" for Sudan's government.
"The Troika... rejects any attempts to derail or disrupt the Sudanese people's efforts to establish a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous future," they said in a statement.
Long history of coups
Sudan has had a long history of coups, including since Bashir's ouster, but those were small scale and immediately foiled.
It was not the first challenge to the transitional authorities, who say they have foiled or detected previous coup attempts linked to factions loyal to Bashir, who was deposed by the army after months of protests against his rule.
In 2020, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok survived an assassination attempt targeting his convoy as he headed to work in Khartoum.
Sudan has gradually been welcomed into the international fold since the overthrow of Bashir, who ruled Sudan for almost 30 years and is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged atrocities committed in Darfur in the early 2000s.
Bashir is presently in prison in Khartoum, where he faces several trials.
The ICC's chief prosecutor held talks with Sudanese officials last month on accelerating steps to hand over those wanted over Darfur.
Sudan's economy has been in deep crisis since before Bashir's removal and the transitional government has undergone a reform programme monitored by the International Monetary Fund.
Underlining Western support for the transitional authorities, the Paris Club of official creditors agreed in July to cancel $14 billion of Sudan's debt and to restructure the rest of the more than $23 billion it owed to the club's members.
But the economy is still struggling with rapid inflation and shortages of goods and services.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)