Arrest warrants issued against five former NCP leaders in eastern Sudan

Ahmed Haroun (File photo: SUNA)

The public prosecution in Kassala has issued arrest warrants against five leading members of the former regime of Omar Al Bashir under the emergency law. Ahmed Haroun, Ali Osman, Awad El Jaz, Abdelrahman El Khidir, and El Fateh Ezzeldin are charged of being ‘fugitives from justice’.

In end April, about 10 days after war erupted between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), leading members of the deposed Omar al Bashir regime who were detained following the 2018 Revolution, managed to escape from Kober Prison in Khartoum North.

One of them, Ahmed Haroun, who is also wanted by the International Criminal Court  (ICC) in The Hague, said in an audio recording at the time that they feared the bombardments and suffered from recurring power and water outages.

They were able to leave the prison allegedly with the help of and army officers who transferred them to a safer place. Haroun added that they would report to the authorities after the ending of the war.

The RSF said at the time, however, that the release of “the symbols of the former regime” from prison is part of the army’s plan to return the Islamists to power.

The mainstream Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC-Central Council) also warned for efforts of Islamist members of the ousted Al Bashir regime “to restore the tyrannical junta to power through this war”.

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) denied being behind the escape of the former officials who were very close to Al Bashir during his 30-year dictatorship (1989-2019).

‘On request’

The arrest warrants, posted on social media yesterday, were issued after the prominent members of the now banned National Congress Party (NCP) of Omar al Bashir began to organise activities in Kassala, lawyer Rehab El Mubarak told Radio Dabanga.

“The warrants were issued pursuant to requests submitted by a group of civil society organisations, political forces, and lawyers,” she explained. “They are based on the charges under which these leaders of the former regime were imprisoned for more than two years.”

The five leaders are accused of being behind the June 1989 military coup carried out under the leadership of Omar al Bashir and of having given instructions to kill protesters during the 2018 December revolution. In addition, Haroun has been charged by the ICC in 2007 of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

El Mubarak, a prominent member of the Emergency Lawyers, further said that the warrants were issued against five “fugitives from justice”. No new complaints were filed against them.

‘Centre of influence’

Hamrour Hussein, a leading member of the eastern Sudanese People’s Front for Liberation and Justice, told Radio Dabanga that Kassala “is considered one of the former regime’s centres of influence as the Empowerment Removal Committee* did not operate in the state before it was suspended by the October 2021 putchists”.

Political and civil society groups earlier protested against the pro-army activities organised by the leaders of the former regime in Kassala, and demanded the dismissal of the acting state governor, Khojali Hamed.

The governor responded in the end of July, by banning public and private happenings without prior approval from the authorities 48 hours in advance.

The Sudanese army has established dozens of Pride and Dignity camps, including in Kassala, in which volunteers can receive basic military training to fight the RSF alongside army soldiers.

Leaders of the dissolved NCP reportedly organised similar meetings in support of the army in El Gedaref and Port Sudan.

Political activist Jaafar Khidir told Radio Dabanga from El Gedaref that “the same Islamist leaders held meetings in the city in June”. Unconfirmed reports said that they had been met by state government officials.

“The activities of these former Islamists aim at restoring the dissolved NCP under the guise of supporting the army in the war against the RSF,” Khidir claimed.

‘Battle for dignity’

Reports about public meetings, set up by leaders of the former Al Bashir regime, led by Ahmed Haroun, in Port Sudan, remain unconfirmed.

The authorities in Port Sudan restrict the movement of volunteers and journalists, especially those covering conditions in shelters for displaced people and service centres.

The dissolved NCP condemned the issuance of arrest warrants against former Vice-President Ali Osman Taha, former Oil Minister Awad El Jaz, former Minister of Interior Ahmed Haroun, former Khartoum Governor Abdelrahman El Khidir, and former Parliament Chair El Fateh Ezzeldin in a statement on Tuesday

The group said that “the leaders involved have done little more than mobilise party membership as part of the battle for dignity,” and renewed their support for the army.

Aiding displaced people

Activist Jaafar Khidir said that he was briefly detained last week, “after three insane complaints were filed against him by former NCP members, companies and public officials over some of my Facebook posts”.

He further reported that the El Gedaref state government is restricting activists who are providing aid to the many people who fled from Khartoum and sought shelter in the city.

“The El Gedaref Emergency Room, set up by members of the resistance committees and other activists, was prevented from helping displaced with special needs in the city’s youth hostel, and later also in the Deim Bakr School,” Khidir said.

“The ban on the activities of the emergency room has cast a shadow on the situation of displaced people coming from Khartoum.”

* Its full name was the Committee for Dismantling the June 30 1989 Regime, Removal of Empowerment and Corruption, and Recovering Public Funds. The mechanism was established by the civilian-led government of Abdallah Hamdok in late 2019 with the aim to purge Sudan of the remnants of the Al Bashir regime. The committee was suspended, and its leaders detained following the October 2021 military coup d’état. Empowerment (tamkin) is the term with which the ousted government of Omar Al Bashir supported its affiliates by granting them far-going governmental and financial privileges.