Khartoum — Sudan's president Omer Al-Bashir has reportedly held a meeting described as "candid" with detained leaders of an alleged coup attempt against his government as his senior aide Nafe Ali Nafe rejected calls for releasing them saying they must be tried for conspiring against the regime.
Intelligence authorities announced on 22 November that they arrested 13 individuals, including the former director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Salah Gosh and Brigadier General Mohamed Ibrahim Abdel-Galil known as "Wad Ibrahim" from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), against the background of plotting a coup to overthrow the government.
The coup has been linked to disenfranchised elements within Al-Bashir's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the wider Islamist establishment that underpins it, particularly to a group of erstwhile Mujahdeen known as Al-Sa'heoon who formed the core of paramilitary forces fighting the "holy" war against South Sudan.
A Facebook page purporting to represent Al-Sa'heoon reported on Wednesday that Al-Bashir held a meeting few days ago with leaders of the failed coup attempt. One of Al-Sa'heoon members wrote on the page that the meeting was "candid and transparent", adding that it was followed by "hugging" and "tears".
He further said that in light of what happened at the meeting, he expects the detainees to be released during the celebrations of the country's independence anniversary in January.
According to the report, the meeting was arranged by a number of NCP's parliamentarians who launched an initiative to pardon the detainees.
Meanwhile, however, presidential assistant and NCP's deputy chairman Nafe Ali Nafe has discounted the possibility of releasing the detainees saying they must stand trial for their conspiracy against the regime.
In a meeting held on Tuesday with NCP parliamentarians at the Officers Club in Khartoum, Nafe described the coup as a conspiracy and confirmed that the detainees will undergo investigations and trial because of their actions.
Nafe previously claimed that the same coup plotters were detained before on charges of planning a coup but were released following a "confrontation" over why they decided to try their luck at a putsch. He also vowed that the government will not go back on trying them this time around especially that it has enough evidences to convict them.
Some analysts suggest that a schism could happen in the NCP due to differences between its leaders over how to deal with the alleged coup plotters.
Government freezes Gosh's bank accounts
In a related development, the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) ordered commercial banks on Wednesday to freeze financial assets of some companies owned by Salah Gosh.
According to Gosh's older brother Abdel Azim, CBoS's directives had suspended the financial assets of some of Gosh's companies as well as his personal bank account.
Abdel Azim told the Turkey-based news agency Anadul that the CBoS also instructed commercial banks to provide it with statements of the bank accounts of Gosh's wife, his son and four daughters.
Following his abrupt dismissal by Al-Bashir from his position as a presidential adviser for security affairs last year, Salah Gosh is said to have shifted to business and established a number of trade companies.
Abdel Azim said that the NISS deputy director Salah Al-Tayyib told him that his brother is undergoing investigations about the activities of some NISS-owned companies during his tenure as an NISS director.
Gosh's brother accused unnamed government figures of "concocting" charges against his brother and attempting to obstruct his business activities.
"Everybody knows that Gosh has nothing to do with the detained army officers and that he did not plot any coup. There are influential figures trying to settle some old accounts with him"
Gosh's family privately accuse Nafe Ali Nafe of being behind the coup charge against Gosh. The two men are known for their divergence of opinions on many issues. Gosh's dismissal from the position of a presidential adviser for security followed a public imbroglio between him and Nafe on the dialogue between the NCP and some opposition parties.
Gosh was the powerful NISS chief since 2004 and until he was surprisingly removed from the position in 2009. He is better known for his deep cooperation with the United States on counter-terrorism following September 2001 attacks in Washington and New York.