Home | News    Monday 25 April 2011

Sudan’s opposition leader Al-Turabi to be released soon, paper reports

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April 24, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Islamist opposition leader, Hassan Al-Turabi, will be released from detention imminently and allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment, a local Sudanese daily has reported, quoting “authorized” government sources.

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Sudanese Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi (Photo: Getty Images)

The privately owned daily newspaper Al-Akhabr reported on Sunday, citing anonymous government sources, that the release of Al-Turabi had become a “matter of time” and that he would be allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment as demanded by his family after he was hospitalized earlier this month as a result of injuries he sustained when he accidently fell to the ground whilst in detention at Kober Prison in Khartoum.

Al-Akhbar said that the sources had expressed confidence that Al-Turabi poses no danger or threat to the government, and that he would be given permission to travel abroad to receive medical treatment.

The 79-year old veteran Islamist was arrested in mid-January for the sixth time since he was ousted from power following the 1999’s schism in the National Islamic Front, which saw it split between Al-Turabi’s supporters under the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and those of President Al-Bashir and other fellow Islamists under the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

Al-Turabi’s arrest this time followed his warnings that the government of President Al-Bashir could face a popular uprising similar to the ones currently seen in some Arab countries if it continues to resist calls for reforms.

Meanwhile, the NCP’s vice-president Mandor Al-Mahdi on Saturday held a press conference in which he said that Al-Turabi should either be released or tried despite his conviction that his arrest was a “security issue.”

“Our opinion, however, is that anyone who served the legal detention period should be either brought to a trial or released,” Mandor said.

But his statement contrast sharply with that of the NCP’s vice-president Nafi Ali Nafi who denied, in an interview with Sudan radio on Friday, the existence of any calls within his party for Al-Turabi’s release.

“Everyone knows that we don’t arrest a person for nothing, the decision to bring Al-Turabi to a trial is up to the competent authorities and prosecution” Nafi said, stoking speculations that the NCP’s leadership is exhibiting signs of discord.

Al-Turabi’s wife Wisal Al-Mahdi said in a phone interview with Sudan Tribune earlier this month that Nafi, who is considered one of the NCP’s hardliners, was behind the continuation of her husband’s ordeal in detention.

"[Sudanese President Omer Hassan] Al-Bashir was going to let him go because of the law but Nafie [Ali Nafie the presidential assistant] convinced him not to because this may cause people to take the streets and overthrow the government in light of political changes in the region," Wisal said.

Wisal said that the authorities were keeping her husband under arrest because they fear his ability to incite a popular uprising.

The PCP’s political secretary, Kamal Omar, told Sudan Tribune this month that the party would not resort to dialogue with the NCP for the sake of freeing Al-Turabi or allowing him to travel abroad, stressing that his party remains committed to its policy of seeking regime-change.

(ST)

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