Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 September 2019

Sudan's military rulers arrest overthrown president's brothers

Omar Al Bashir is being held in a prison notorious for holding political prisoners under the former president

A Sudanese woman walks by the walls of Kober prison where ousted president Omar Al Bashir is detained in Khartoum North, on April 17, 2019. AFP
A Sudanese woman walks by the walls of Kober prison where ousted president Omar Al Bashir is detained in Khartoum North, on April 17, 2019. AFP

Sudan's new military rulers arrested ousted President Omar Al Bashir's two brothers for corruption, part of a broad sweep against officials and supporters of the former government, the country's official news agency reported Thursday.

The spokesman of the military council, Gen Shams Eddin Kabashi, was quoted by SUNA as saying that Abdullah and Abbas Al Bashir were taken into custody, without providing more details or saying when it happened.

The Sudanese military ousted Omar Al Bashir last week, after four months of street protests against his 30-year rule marred by conflict, civil war and corruption. Mr Bashir is also wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court for atrocities committee in the western region of Darfur.

The brothers' detention was likely another concession by the military to the protesters, who have demanded that all key figures and ranking officials from the former president's circle be arrested. A number of Mr Bashir's close associates and former government officials have already been taken into custody since the military overthrew Mr Bashir last Thursday.

The military council, which is now running the country, said the former president was transferred on Tuesday to Koper Prison in the capital, Khartoum, a facility notorious for holding political prisoners under Mr Bashir.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese Professionals Association, which has been spearheading the anti-government street protests since mid-December, released Wednesday together with several opposition groups a proposed blueprint for the transfer of power from the military to a civilian government.

Though the street protesters were overjoyed at Mr Bashir's ouster, they were not happy with the military taking over and have demanded a swift handover of power to civilian rule. The military council has said it plans to rule for a maximum of two years as they country prepares for new elections.

The protesters fear the army, dominated by Bashir appointees, will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him. They have vowed to carry on with their protests, focused around a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, until the transfer of power is complete.

The two-page blueprint posted online envisages a civilian presidential council made up of "revolutionary figures" and a defence minister, the only representative from the military.

It also proposes the formation of a Cabinet of technocrats to run daily affairs of the state and a legislative council to draft laws and oversee the Cabinet until a new constitution is written.

"We have to continue our sit-ins until a transitional civilian authority takes over," the document says. "We have faith that our people's victory is coming and that no power can stop our people from achieving all their goals."

The military did not immediately comment on the document. The organisers of the protests urged the Sudanese to join their rally on Thursday in massive numbers as a way to pressure the military.

It's not clear what will happen next to Mr Bashir, a pariah in many countries. The military has said it would not extradite him to the ICC but has not ruled out that a future civilian government could someday hand him over to the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

Meanwhile, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir offered to mediate in Sudan's political crisis. In a letter seen by The Associated Press news agency, Mr Kiir this week pledged his support for a transition where the rights of the Sudanese people are protected and offered to "mediate the on-going negotiations" among various groups.

Some in South Sudan are concerned that Mr Bashir's departure will hurt their country's fragile peace deal, which Mr Bashir helped broker. South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011, following decades of civil war.

But they new country subsequently sank into its own civil war, which ended with an agreement signed in September. The deal calls for opposition leader Riek Machar to return to South Sudan next month to once again become Mr Kiir's deputy, though that looks increasingly unlikely as tensions continue.

One political analyst called Mr Kiir's offer of mediation over Mr Bashir a "hypocritical public relations" stunt.

"It doesn't make sense. You cannot leave your house in a mess and claim to clean your neighbour's house," said Jacob Chol, professor at the University of Juba.

Updated: April 18, 2019 04:59 PM

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