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SUDAN: NCP dissidents warn against harming alleged coup plotters

November 24, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – A group of dissenting members from Sudan’s governing National Congress Party (NCP) has stepped up in defense of 13 military and civilian individuals being detained over an alleged coup attempt, warning that any harmful action against them will be “costly”

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A Sudanese woman stands in front of an electoral poster for Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (File/The Guardian Website)

The group that called itself “NCP-Reform Forum” said in a press release it issued on Saturday that the authorities must abide by the provisions of the law in dealing with the 13 detainees who include ex-intelligence chief Salah Gosh, Brigadier GENERAL Mohamed Ibrahim Abdel-Galil “Wad Ibrahim” from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Major General Adil Al-Tayeb from the National Intelligence Security Service (NISS).

According to intelligence authorities, those detained are being investigated in connection with the planning a “subversive attempt” that was thwarted at the Zero Hour on Thursday, 22 November.

NCP-Reform Forum’s statement warned that targeting decent and honest elements of the military and holders of different opinions is a national crime, calling for what it described as the frantic media campaign of lies and deception.

The breakaway group said that the sinister propaganda war being waged against the detainees serves to harm the country’s rulers more than its target individuals.

It added that even if the charge facing the detainees has been substantiated by clear and tangible evidence, their crime is defined by all legal and political lexicons as “an attempt to seize power” not a “subversive attempt” or “attempted assassinations”

The group, which was not known before, further warned that harming the detainees will be “costly,”

In the first response to the statement of the nascent group, NCP’s spokesperson Badr Al-Din Ahmad Ibrahim, said his party was not aware of such group. He added that even if there is a wing of reformists within the NCP, they should follow the due process in discussing their demands through the party’s channels not through the media.

Ibrahim asserted that the NCP-Reform Forum has two choices: either to raise its demands within the party or declare its secession officially.

Meanwhile, the government has promised to divulge greater details about the alleged coup attempt as its reverberations continue to create polarization among Islamists and tension between the government and its loyalists.

Media minister and government spokesperson, Ahmad Bilal Osman, announced on Saturday that he intends to disclose more details about the coup attempt today. “We will announce new information about the subversive attempt in a press conference on Sunday [25 November]” he said during an interview with Sudan state TV.

Bilal added that the detainees are receiving good treatment and that investigations with them are being conducted in accordance with the law. He denied reports that more people have been arrested other than the 13 previously announced, urging citizens not to recognize rumors.

According to the minister, the government wants the investigations to be conducted in “a healthy environment”

He said that the attempted coup did not cast any negative security shadows on the country and has no extensions inside security forces, adding that things are back to normal and the public opinion will be provided with all the information.

In other related developments, prominent Islamist and chairman of the NCP’s parliamentary bloc Ghazi Salah Al-Din denied media reports that he had been summoned and questioned over the alleged coup attempt.

The Sudanese daily newspaper Al-Intibaha reported that the authorities arrested a number of officers with connections to the detained SAF general Wad Ibrahim. Those include Captain Ala Al-Din Mohammad Abdel Allah and Captain Ibrahim Obaid Allah from the NISS’s department of operations, the commander-in-chief of the Chadian-Sudanese joint border patrol forces, and lieutenant colonels Rashad and Hassan from SAF’s armored vehicles division.

The alleged coup attempt is evidently creating tension between the government and some of its constituencies. NISS’s director-general Mohammed Atta held a meeting on Friday with a group of nearly 1000 members of the paramilitary Popular Defense Forces (PDF) after they called for the release of the detained individuals.

Atta, who left Khartoum on the same day for Chad, told the disgruntled PDF members that the authorities only arrested the individuals after obtaining enough information and evidences to justify their detention. “Security authorities do not act out of personal whims and they perform their job in a professional and unbiased way”

In the meantime, the newly elected secretary-general of the Islamic Movement (IM), Al-Zuabir Ahmad Al-Hassan, has been holding meetings with influential figures in the government in an attempt to contain widespread discontent among hard-line Islamists over the arrests.

Multiple security and military sources told Sudan Tribune this week that the NISS arrested around 100 pro-government Islamist elements who belong to a group widely known as "Al-Sae’ohoon" who formed the core of special forces fighting South Sudan rebels during the civil war since Bashir came to power in 1998 in a bloodless military coup backed by the National Islamist Front (NIF).

Al-Sae’ohoon has been vocal recently over reform demands and expressed bitterness that the NCP leadership has softened stance on Islamic principles and gave too many concessions to South Sudan in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), while allowing for the army to suffer military setbacks.

A memo released on Thursday attributed to Al-Sae’ohoon in response to the arrests urged president Bashir to release those detained and described them as the safety valve of the 1989 coup since its inception all through the battles of Heglig this year.

The group underscored that those taken into custody were never carried away by earthly pleasures of power.

The memo blasted defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein saying he bears responsibility for army failures in relation to South Sudan, the rebel Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) and airstrikes carried out by Israel inside the country that recently targeted a weapons factory in Khartoum.

They went on to say that Hussein sent several generals into retirement only because they expressed their views and provided advice. "[Hussein] is stirring up trouble with [former] head of Sudan’s armored corps Brigadier General Sideeg Fadl [who is] security valve of the [1989] revolution".

"We are all waiting to see what will decisions will emerge [from you] and you must know for sure that they [detainees] all love you and endear you and have respect for you but your defense minister left them with no option but this one" said the memo.

Bashir has long resisted calls for sacking his defense minister over corruption charges and defeats on the battlefield. Hussein came under fire last April for the ease at which Sudan army lost Heglig oilfield to South Sudan.

Earlier this year multiple army sources told Sudan Tribune that a group of 700 army officers urged Bashir to carry out political and military reforms. They also made complaints about the morale and army preparedness. This was in response to the president’s call for them to prepare for the possibility of war with South Sudan.