Sudan arrests army officers over coup

By IndepthAfrica
In East Africa
Dec 21st, 2012
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The Sudanese authorities have quietly arrested more than half a dozen army officers accusing them of plotting to stage a coup against the government led by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

According to the Cairo-based Al-Masry Al-Youm and Saudi-owned Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspapers the head of the of plot is a colonel in Khartoum central region who was identified as Al-Tayeb Al-Sayed.

Al-Masry Al-Youm offered more details saying Al-Sayed was assisted by six unnamed officers along with a retired Major general and two privates.

The same newspaper quoted Al-Sayed as warning the head of military intelligence that unless changes in the “leadership” are made that fixes the country’s problems then “everyday they will find a coup as there are tens behind us who will try that”.

But the Sudanese army spokesperson Colonel Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad denied these reports speaking about a “third coup” uncovered last month that follows a first unannounced one that presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie spoke about last week.

Sa’ad described the reports as “rumors” with “foreign goals” to destabilize the country stressing that the country’s institutions are under state control.

Last month Sudanese authorities sent shockwaves throughout the country when it arrested the once powerful former head of National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Salah Gosh and more than a dozen senior security and army officers who are considered Islamist loyalists.

The government initially described the plot as a sabotage one aimed at inciting chaos avoiding labeling it as a coup attempt. Later they acknowledged that this was a plan to overthrow the regime.

There were numerous reports of further arrests made in the ranks of the Sudanese army weeks after the initial announcement drawing further questions about the scope of the plot.

The lack of a coherent explanation by officials on the coup attempt led many observers to believe that this is a power struggle within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) aimed at eliminating disenfranchised Islamist elements.

Despite repeated pledges by authorities to unveil more details on the alleged coup attempt the detainees have yet to be formally charged and prosecuted.

Sudanese officials including Nafie are now suggesting that investigations are proving links between those arrested and some opposition parties including Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the National Umma Party (NUP).

The conspirators have reportedly spread news about the president’s “deteriorating” health condition to justify the coup.

The 68-years old Sudanese leader underwent two surgeries in his throat since August in Qatar and Saudi Arabia respectively. Officials in the presidency confirmed the first surgery only two months later following growing talk that Bashir was ill.

Bashir’s brother Abdullahi was the first to disclose that the president had a tumor in his vocal cords but said it was benign. The revelation embarrassed other Sudanese officials who gave less serious accounts of Bashir’s ailment.

The Sudanese president has cut down his public appearances particularly in conferences but continues to hold bilateral meetings with members of his government and foreign dignitaries.

But since last year several memos attributed to unnamed Islamists and NCP members have floated calling for deep reforms within the government and ruling party to deal with growing crises in the country.

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