Sudan arrests secretary general of opposition party over alleged involvement in 1989 coup

Sudan arrests secretary general of opposition party over alleged involvement in 1989 coup
Sudanese authorities arrested Secretary General Dr. Ali al-Hajj over his alleged involvement in a 1989 coup that brought ousted President Omar al-Bashir to power.
3 min read
20 November, 2019
Arrest warrants had been issued for party leaders Ibrahim Al-Senoussi and Dr. Ali al-Hajj [Anadolu/Getty]
The secretary general of Sudan's opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) was arrested on Wednesday as part of a criminal probe into the 1989 coup that brought ousted President Omar al-Bashir to power, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.

Arrest warrants were issued against Secretary General Dr. Ali Al-Hajj and fellow party leader Ibrahim El-Sanousi last week, Dabanga Sudan reported. 

The PCP was formed out of a split with Bashir's National Congress Party in 1999. It was founded by Hassan Al-Turabi, a highly influential Islamist politician who dominated Sudan's government throughout the 1980s and 1990s until falling out with Bashir.

Since its founding in 1999, the PCP has been in staunch opposition to Bashir's regime, with Secretary General Ali al-Hajj advocating the former president's extradition to the Hague earlier this month.

Turabi's Shura council, of which Dr. Ali Al-Hajj was a member, is believed to have planned the 1989 coup, according to Al Jazeera Arabic.

The verdict in Bashir's corruption trial is to be delivered on 14 December, a judge announced on Saturday, as his supporters staged a protest outside the court.

Bashir, who was overthrown by the army in April, has been on trial in a Khartoum court since August on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds - offences that could land him behind bars for more than a decade.

Several hearings have been held, including one on Saturday, in the presence of the deposed leader who followed the proceedings from inside a metal cage.

"It has been decided that on 14 December a session will be held to deliver the verdict," judge Sadeq Abdelrahman said.

Authorities seized 6.9 million euros, $351,770 and 5.7 million Sudanese pounds ($128,000) from Bashir's home, Abdelrahman said at the start of the trial in August.

Bashir said at the time that the funds were the remainder of $25 million received from Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The aid, he said, formed part of Sudan's strategic relations with Saudi Arabia and were "not used for private interests but as donations".

Several defence witnesses testified in court, some backing up Bashir's account.

Against the backdrop of trial in Khartoum, calls have grown from global rights groups, activists and victims of the war in Darfur to transfer Bashir to The Hague-based International Criminal Court.

Bashir is wanted by the ICC for his alleged role in the Darfur war that broke out in 2003 as ethnic African rebels took up arms against Bashir's then Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalising the region economically and politically.

Read more: Arab Monetary Fund to give $305 million loan to cash-strapped Sudan

Khartoum applied what rights groups say was a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels - raping, killing, looting and burning villages.

The ICC has accused Bashir of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the vast western region of Darfur, charges the former president denies.

About 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, according to the United Nations.

Bashir was ousted following nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.

The army generals who initially seized power after the president's fall refused to hand 75-year-old Bashir over to the ICC.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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