Inter- Sudanese peace negotiations in Kenya extended; Turabi detained, accused of supporting Darfour's rebels
Sudan, Politics, 4/1/2004
The Sudanese authorities yesterday at dawn detained the opposition Islamic figure Hassan al-Turabi and accused him of provoking tribal tension and supporting the rebels in Darfour area to the west of Sudan, while the government of Khartoum and the main rebels movement in Sudan agreed to extend their negotiations in Nivaha ( Kenya ) which was due to be concluded yesterday.
A high ranking military official said that the People's Congress party which is led by al-Turabi, is linked this week with a group of officers who were arrested over suspicion of planning for a coupe attempt. However, the Sudanese minister of information, al-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik, said that Turabi was detained over a statement issued on march 29th, which he described as an attempt to provoke and raise racism. The People's Congress party denied this accusation..
Turabi was detained earlier in 2001 following a conflict over authority with the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and he was released from home arrest in October 2003.
Malik told journalists that the people's congress party financed the rebels in Darfour who started the rebellion against the government in February 2003 accusing it of neglecting this arid area.
Turabi said he might support the accusations raised by Darfour rebels to the government but is not involved in their actions.
It seemed that Malik backtracked his statements on a planned coupe in Khartoum noting it was not a coupe attempt, rather a riot operation targeted one oil refinery and electricity generation stations in Khartoum. He added this is what had pushed the government to detain those officers, and he also stressed that this operation was made in a very narrow scale. He also said that the security forces are making preliminary investigations after which the ten army officers will be brought before a military court. Malik also said that seven members of the People's Congress party were detained but gave no mention if they will be brought before the military court.
Awad Babaker, Turbai's secretary, said that March 29th statement was issued as an reply to rumors on the party's involvement in the coupe attempt. He added "we have said in the statement that the detentions aimed at cleaning the army lines from all those from Darfour. We talked frankly and said we no longer believe in coupes." Turabi's son, Issam Eddin, who had visited him said " He is fine and is in Copper prison in Khartoum and his Morales is very high."
Meanwtime, the Sudanese government's delegation and the delegation of the people's movement for the liberation of Sudan extended their negotiations in Nivasha. The chairman of the mediation delegation said in a telephone call from Nivasha that " talks are continuous and the two sides stressed determination to continue negotiations." The Sudanese Vice President Ali Othman Taha and the leader of the people's movement for the liberation of Sudan, John Garang, resumed their talks in Nivasha on February 17 after these talks were suspended during al-Haj season. This round was due to be completed on March 16 and then postponed until March 31st.
The Sudanese government signed with the rebels an agreement on sharing resources. The two sides, however, are still to deal with the two issues of the status of the three areas under dispute and sharing political and administrative authorities.
In Njamina, the first round of talks between Chad's mediation delegation and the Sudanese governmental delegation was concluded in the course of indirect negotiations between the two sides of conflict in Darfour.
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