Sudan's ruling military council said it foiled an attempted military coup Thursday, just days after the military and a pro-democracy coalition agreed on a joint sovereign council to rule the country during a transition period until elections are organized.
Lt. Gen. Gamal Omar, a member of the military council, said in a statement at least 16 active and retired military officers were arrested. Security forces were pursuing the group's leader and additional officers who took part in plotting the coup attempt, he said.
The council did not reveal the name of the attempted leader, his rank or other details. The statement also said five of the arrested officers were retired.
The military and a pro-democracy coalition agreed last week on a joint sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organized. Both sides say a diplomatic push by the U.S. and its Arab allies was key to ending a weekslong standoff that raised fears of all-out civil war.
"The attempted coup came in a critical time, ahead of the deal with the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change," Omar said, referring to the group that speaks for pro-democracy demonstrators.
Sudan's top general had said the military council that assumed power after the overthrow of longtime President Omar al-Bashir in April will be dissolved with the implementation of the power-sharing deal.
The deal was meant to end the political deadlock between the military council and the protest movement since security forces razed a massive pro-democracy sit-in in Khartoum early last month, killing more than 100 people since then, according to protest organizers.
In the ensuing weeks, protesters stayed in the streets, demanding that the generals hand power to civilian leadership.
They resumed negotiations on Wednesday after tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of Sudan's main cities last weekend in the biggest demonstrations since the sit-in camp was razed. At least 11 people were killed in clashes with security forces, according to protest organizers.