26 November 2012

Sudan: Two Opposition Members Held in Connection With Coup Attempt - Official

Photo: Arne Doornebal/ RNW
Army (file photo): Dozens of high-ranking army and security officials have been arrested for allegedly trying to sabotage the government.

Khartoum — Two opposition member were taken into custody in connection with the coup attempt authorities uncovered last week, the government spokesperson said today.

Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman attends a press conference in the capital Khartoum on November 22, 2012 (Getty Images)

In an interview on privately-owned Blue Nile TV information minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said that the two civilian elements were detected to have been in contact with Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and other opposition groups.

Osman did not name the two figures arrested or detail their affiliations. He also denied that additional arrests were made but pointed out that some may be summoned and interrogated as witnesses not suspects.

On Thursday morning, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) announced that they have thwarted what they described as a sabotage plot by members of the army, paramilitary forces and NISS.

Later that day the government revealed that NISS ex-director Salah Gosh was among the 13 people arrested. Also among those detained was influential Islamist military general Mohamed Ibrahim Abdel-Galil who is believed to be the leader of the group widely known as "Al-Sae'ohoon" which formed the core of special forces fighting South Sudan rebels during the civil war since president Omer Hassan al-Bashir came to power in 1998 in a bloodless military coup backed by the National Islamist Front (NIF).

Ibrahim was also in charge of presidential security for seven years.

The arrests further fueled anger among the Islamist base which has been pushing for reforms in the ruling National Congress Party, Islamist Movement (IM) and the government as a whole.

The reformist were already infuriated at the IM convention that took place this month after it brushed aside its main demand to segregate IM from the NCP and maintained the status quo.

Most Islamists as well as opposition figures believe that the arrests was a preemptive move to neutralize reformists and not based on a real plot.

But the information minister insisted that the authorities are in possession of solid evidence implicating those arrested that will be revealed to the public at the right time and after investigations are complete.

He acknowledged however, that some of those detained may end up being cleared.

"The accused is innocent until proven guilty and we don't want to incriminate people," Osman said.

He said that the government is not "stupid" to fake a "serious" case like this and revealed that the plan of the conspirators was to carry out assassinations and arrests of some figures but did not elaborate.

"I cannot say more than this but there is evidence and proof and many large signs confirming this and if it wasn't for that they wouldn't be arrested specially that they are not ordinary people " the government spokesperson added.

In a related statement, the deputy parliament speaker Samia Ahmed stressed that those arrested will be afforded fair trials and denied that the NCP is going through a crisis over the arrests. She also expressed doubts about reports that this issue will be resolved through reconciliation to avoid split in the NCP and the IM.

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