June 15, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese authorities on Sunday released the National Umma Party (NUP) leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi after being in detention for almost a month, official news agency (SUNA) reported.
- Opposition leader of Umma Party and Sudan’s former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi receives a hug from a supporter at his home in Omdurman after he was released, June 15, 2014 (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
SUNA said the move was done after al-Mahdi’s lawyers appealed to the justice minister Mohamed Bushara Dousa agreed to use his powers under article (58) of Sudan’s penal code to stop criminal proceedings against any suspect at any point before being sentenced by a court.
The minister also consulted with the plaintiff, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), which approved of his decision in line with public interests being superior to private interests.
According to SUNA’s report, Dousa also cited the spirit of national reconciliation in the country for releasing the former Prime Minister.
SUNA carried a statement by NUP Central Commission stating that they support the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and that what al-Mahdi mentioned regarding RSF is derived from complaints and claims "that are not necessarily all true".
There was no mention in the state media of a pardon by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir as was reported earlier following a mediation led by a committee of national personalities.
Sudan’s state minister of information Yasser Youssef told Reuters that the release of al-Mahdi occurred within a "legal framework" but did not give further details.
Al-Mahdi was arrested on May 17th for criticizing alleged crimes and atrocities committed by the Rapid Support Force (RSF) militia. He was accused of undermining the constitution among other charges that could have led to the death penalty if convicted.
Kamal Idriss, a member of the national personalities committee was quoted at a press conference on Sunday as saying that al-Mahdi will turn the plight of the prison into a point of convergence to achieve national agreement and social peace.
He said al-Mahdi met with the mediation committee which included figures from various political parties and entities including the veteran Islamist , Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, father Falt?’us Faraj, the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) leading figure, Taha Ali al-Bashir, former prime minister, al-Gizouli Dafa’alla, and former chief justice, Dafa’alla Al-Hag Youssef.
According to Idriss, the committee members felt that the country was facing a real danger following arrest of al-Mahdi and therefore decided to intervene to salvage the national dialogue, stressing that the latter’s detention represented a significant impediment in the face of national agreement.
He said the committee held a series of meetings with government officials on one side and al-Mahdi on the other besides some opposition forces, noting that those efforts yielded the agreement of president Bashir to secure al-Mahdi’s immediate release.
The veteran Islamist, Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, for his part, praised president Bashir’s and the First Vice president Bakri Hassan Salih for swiftly responding to the mediators request, noting that foreign personalities have also urged the president to release al-Mahdi.
45 Islamic thinkers and scholars worldwide signed a petition on Thursday urging Bashir to release al-Mahdi.
Idriss said the decision to release al-Mahdi was issued by president Bashir as he is the country’s top official, declining to give legal details on whether the charges were dropped or not.
He underscored the committee’s efforts will continue until securing release of the chairman of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), Ibrahim al-Sheikh and all other political detainees.
Al-Sheikh was arrested last week for criticizing the RSF. He is facing the same charges of defamation against the government troops, breach of public peace, and undermining the constitution.