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Islamist leader detained in Sudan for role in 1989 coup

November 21 - 2019 KHARTOUM
Popular Congress Party Chairman Ali El Haj (left) and Secretary General Ibrahim El Sanousi (Social media)
Popular Congress Party Chairman Ali El Haj (left) and Secretary General Ibrahim El Sanousi (Social media)

Authorities in Sudan have arrested prominent Islamist political leader Ali El Haj, after questioning by Khartoum prosecutors on his role in the 1989 military coup that brought the now deposed Omar Al Bashir to power.

El Haj is Chairman of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), which broke away from Al Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) after a dispute, but later re-allied with the ruling party.

Last week, the public prosecutor in Khartoum issued arrest warrants against El Haj as well as PCP Secretary General Ibrahim El Sanousi, who has not been arrested to date.

Yesterday, the home El Haj was surrounded by a large security force. El Haj was searched, detained, and taken to the office of the public prosecutor in Khartoum Bahri (North) for questioning.

Arrest warrant

The coordinator of the legal committee of the Forces for Freedom and Change, Mohamed Arabi, reported in a statement on November 12 that the prosecutor issued arrest warrants against all living members of the Command Council that organised the military coup on June 30, 1989, which brought Omar Al Bashir to power.

The public prosecutor also issued a travel ban for all accused. Bank accounts of prominent officials of the Al Bashir regime were frozen earlier that week.

Two days previously, El Haj said that Omar Al Bashir should be extradited to the International Criminal Court.

Kober prison

El Hajj said he had been made aware by the PCP secretariat of the intention to arrest him. He has been charged with undermining the constitutional order, and participating in the military coup in 1989.

Ibrahim El Sanousi, head of the PCP Shura Council, confirmed the arrest of El Haj, and that he has been transferred him to Kober prison, where deposed dictator Al Bashir is also being held.

The leader of the PCP, El Amin Abdelrazig, said in a press statement that the written reports against El Haj related to declaring war and participating in the coup. A spokesperson for the Military Coup Lawyers’ Committee, El Moiz Hadra, said that El Hajj and El Sanousi face charges under Article 96 on undermining the constitutional order. “Opening the door of investigations deters political forces from thinking of supporting the military to reach power in the future,” he said.

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