Sudanese opposition leader says arrest was without cause

Sudan's Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi following his release from jail.
Sudan's Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi following his release from jail. AFP

Islamist Sudanese opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi, who has been released from jail after 45 days in detention for criticising elections there, said late Wednesday he had been surprised by his arrest.


Calling it "without cause", Turabi, 78, explained that the arrest came during a May crackdown by Sudanese authorities, on the heels of April elections that returned President Omar al-Beshir to power.

"Of course I am always against the dictatorship and if I make a statement, I take a strong attitude," Turabi said from his home in Khartoum's Manshia district.

But, he added, "I was surprised because - a - the election campaign was over for a while; and - b - they represented themselves with a new image as an elected government."

Sudan's first multiparty elections since 1986 - in which the president, parliamentary and state representatives were elected - were blemished by accusations of fraud as well as by strong criticism from the opposition and foreign poll monitors.

Observers from the European Union and the Carter Center - headed by former US president Jimmy Carter - said after the five days of polling ended on April 15 that the election had failed to meet international standards.

Turabi, Beshir's mentor-turned-political enemy, had been arrested several times since he fell out with the president. His release came on the day Beshir marked the 21st anniversary of his military coup, in which Turabi played a major role.

Beshir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against
humanity in connection with the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region.

"Suffering has become a way of life for eight million people in Darfur," Turabi said.


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