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Politics | Society

Sudan's Islamist leader Turabi arrested

Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi

© Wikipedia
afrol News, 17 May
- Hassan al-Turabi, once the influential ideologist behind Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, has again been arrested in Khartoum. Mr al-Turabi led the Islamist opposition in Sudan's recent elections.

The Saturday evening arrest of Mr al-Turabi was confirmed yesterday by the secretary of the controversial Islamist opposition leader. Armed police reportedly had stormed the house of Mr al-Turabi late in the night, giving no explanation for his arrest.

Mr al-Turabi leads Sudan's opposition Popular Congress Party and made harsh attacks on President al-Bashir during the campaigns leading up to last months multi-party elections in the vast country. The opposition leader denounced the elections as fraudulent and said his party would resist joining a planned unity government.

The Islamist leader has been arrested on several occasions after ending his long and deep friendship with the Sudanese President. Mr al-Turabi had been among the leading figures catapulting President al-Bashir to power in the early 1990s and was seen as the prime ideologist behind the Bashir government. Many thus saw Mr al-Turabi as the country's real leader, key to the introduction of shari'a laws in Sudan.

The two leaders however drifted apart in the mid-1990s as Mr al-Turabi's close personal relations to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden became an increasing political burden for the Khartoum regime. The US listed Sudan as a "state sponsor of terrorism" already in 1993 due to Mr al-Turabi's extremist ties.

Mr al-Turabi was imprisoned for the first time in 2000 on allegations of conspiracy to overthrow the President, spending over three years in prison. He was again sent to jail in March 2004, only to be set free in June 2005, after Sudan's comprehensive north-south peace deal had been negotiated and signed.

The last time Mr al-Turabi was detained was in January 2009. The short arrest came after he publically said President al-Bashir should surrender to the International Criminal Court, which is seeking his extradition over alleged crimes against humanity in the Darfur war.

It is believed that President al-Bashir had been eager not to arrest Mr al-Turabi before last month's elections in an attempt to legitimise the strongly criticised poll exercise. Mr al-Bashir was re-elected in the poll, according to official results.

Reports from Khartoum yesterday also indicate that media outlets sympathetic to Mr al-Turabi's Islamist ideology were raided on Sunday. The Islamist daily 'Rai al-Shaab' saw its offices stormed by armed police, arresting its chief editor and confiscating the newspaper's latest edition.

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