January 14, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — Sudanese authorities made the widely anticipated move and arrested an opposition leader days after he called on president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to surrender to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- In this Sunday, July 17, 2005 file photo, Hassan Turabi speaks to the Associated Press after being released from a year and a half of house arrest for allegedly plotting a coup, in Khartoum, Sudan (AP)
The leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan Al-Turabi was taken into custody shortly before midnight from his home by heavily armed security officers.
Turabi’s wife Wisal Al-Mahdi told Sudan Tribune by phone from Khartoum that he was expecting to be detained and did not come as a surprise.
“One of the ruling party officials said publicly they will let the government agents’ deal with my husband after what he said. It came to pass” she said.
“He was taken alone to the security bureau. His sons followed him in a separate car but were not allowed to accompany him inside” she added.
On Monday Al-Turabi told reporters that Al-Bashir is “politically culpable” for the war crimes in Darfur and urged him to step down to save his country international isolation.
“He should assume responsibility for whatever is happening in Darfur, displacement, burning all the villages, rapes, I mean systematic rapes, continuously, I mean on a wide scale and the killing” Turabi was quoted as saying.
With the exception of Turabi all opposition leaders have rallied behind Bashir and condemned the ICC move.
ICC judges are reviewing ten counts presented by prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in mid-July that include three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder and accused Al-Bashir of masterminding a campaign to get rid of the African tribes in Darfur; Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.
A decision is expected by the judges in the coming weeks, observers say.
Wisal said Turabi made the statements in light of the growing tension in the country over the upcoming decision by the ICC judges.
“There are rumors circulating all over the country, heightened security and reports of imminent attack by Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He was reacting to the environment people are living in” she said.
Asked whether she thinks her husband would regret making the remarks Wisal said that “it was imperative for her husband to voice his opinion on the way out for Sudan out of this crisis”.
She further said she does not expect her husband to be detained for a long period of time.
Al-Turabi, a former ally of President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, was the government’s ideological mastermind in the 1990s and the De-facto ruler.
However Al-Bashir and Al-Turabi split ranks and the latter was jailed on accusations of conspiracy. He was released in October 2003.
The opposition leader was jailed again for more than a year in 2004 over accusations of connections with an alleged coup plot before being released in 2005.
Al-Bashir recently accused JEM of being the military wing of the PCP something Turabi has firmly denied. The Darfurian rebels staged a bold attack and fought fierce battles with the Sudanese army on the outskirts of the capital before they were repulsed.
Following the attack Turabi was detained for question but was subsequently released.