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Lawyers question legal grounds of ERC arrests

February 11 - 2022 KHARTOUM
Empowerment Removal Committee member Wajdi Saleh at a press conference last year (SUNA)
Empowerment Removal Committee member Wajdi Saleh at a press conference last year (SUNA)

Lawyers questioned the validity of the legal measures taken against members of the now-suspended Empowerment Removal Committee* (ERC), who were detained on Wednesday. An adviser to Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), refused to call the arrests ‘political’.

On Wednesday, the police authorities arrested ERC members Khaled Omar, Wajdi Saleh, and El Tayeb Osman after an official complaint, related to ‘a breach of trust’, was made against them by the Ministry of Finance.

A group of lawyers submitted a legal memorandum to the Khartoum North Prosecution Office that refutes the legal grounds of the arrest and demands that the ministry’s complaint be expunged.

The lawyers identified various ways in which the arrests have allegedly not followed correct procedures, including the fact that the warrants were not issued by the correct authorities and that the arrestees have been denied the right to contact their lawyers and to meet with the Public Prosecutor. 

The ERC

The committee has been a key instrument in the fight against corruption and the dismantling of the ‘deep state’ related to ousted dictator Omar Al Bashir since it was founded by former PM Abdallah Hamdok.

Among other things, the Committee instructed the removal of dozens of employees from the Ministry of Finance that held ties with the former regime.

Since the military coup of October 25, and the failed September 21 coup attempt, the ERC has faced increasing repression from coup leaders.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, Economics Professor and member of Sudan's Communisty Party Sidgi Kaballo explained that, since the coup, military authorities have (re-)appointed a ‘second wave’ the Islamic Movement members and others affiliated with the former regime of dictator Omar Al Bashir in all service institutions, banks, and justice institutions. Kaballo described this as as ‘re-empowerment’*.

SAF reaction

In a statement yesterday, the advisor to SAF Commander in Chief El Burhan, El Taher Abu Haja, criticised attempts to frame the detentions as political and the ERC members are required to make payments to be released on bail according to the arrest warrants.

He stressed that the arrests were carried out based on an official breach of trust complaint and were not political arrests and that the arrestees are allowed to be bailed out.

Abu Haja said, that “it is known that, according to Article 177, paragraph 2, of the Criminal Code, the defendants may not be released in such cases with ordinary security, but only by depositing the (bail) amounts in question”.

He further explained that the complaint against the ERC members is now in its investigation stage and called on everyone to “respect the judicial and judicial institutions and to play their role in achieving justice”.

The full name of the committee is the Committee for Dismantling the June 30 1989 Regime, Removal of Empowerment and Corruption, and Recovering Public Funds. It was established by the government of Abdallah Hamdok at the end of 2019 with the aim to purge Sudan of the remnants of the Al Bashir regime. Empowerment (tamkin) is the term with which the ousted government of Omar Al Bashir supported its affiliates by granting them far-going privileges, including government functions, the setting-up of various companies, and tax exemptions.


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