(HT: AP) – Sudanese police arrested one of President Omar al-Bashir’s close allies Tuesday after reports circulated on social media that he had helped launch an apparent coup attempt, the interior minister said.
Interior Minister Awad Saleh al-Mazraq was quoted by state television as saying that Intelligence and Security Service boss Salah Gosh “has been arrested for questioning.” There was no immediate comment from authorities on whether Gosh was arrested for his alleged role in a coup attempt.
“Salah Gosh is being interrogated because he is considered a senior member of the conspiracy targeting the nation,” al-Mazraq said, adding that reports on social media that Gosh was a coup leader were “false.”
There was no immediate word on the fate of Gosh’s supporters or those arrested with him.
The development came a day after the vice president of Bashir’s ruling party, Ali Osman Taha, was detained at his Khartoum home by the security service after posting on social media that he was being treated for a heart attack and “helped” stage a coup attempt, according to state media.
Taha has since been released. He is said to be in stable condition after being hospitalized, according to the Sudanese official news agency.
Sudan’s state news agency also reported Tuesday that an associate of the president, Ramzi Gharib, was detained.
Gwerib is believed to be a close advisor to Bashir and is accused of plotting a coup, according to state news agency SUNA.
Sudan has seen a string of military revolts since 1989. Those revolts are thought to have been opposed by Abdel-Rahman al-Nahdi, a general who was indicted in 1999 by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur, as well as former Vice President Ali Osman Taha, both of whom had been Bashir’s presumed successors.
Sudan has been suffering from political deadlock since 2015, when Bashir won elections boycotted by the opposition parties. The president was re-elected last year but remains politically isolated as some of his close allies have been assassinated, apparently by Western security services, leaving the front-runner to come in as Bashir’s successor.
Sudan’s worst economic crisis in decades has also been blamed for fueling dissent. The government introduced currency controls and introduced large-scale cuts in fuel subsidies last year. That caused inflation to skyrocket. It reached a peak of 86 percent in January before it began to decline.
Corruption and harsh social laws – including severely restricting freedoms and access to the internet and TV – have also been blamed for the uptick in unrest.
Sudan, an oil-rich nation of almost 40 million people with a massive population of the same size, has remained politically unstable since independence from Britain in 1956. The country gained independence from Egypt in 1956 with the support of the West, primarily because of its oil reserves.
Bashir seized power in 1989 after a military coup. He then pulled off a comeback after being wounded in an assassination attempt by Islamist militants in 1997. He has served two seven-year terms in office, until an election in 2010, in which he was declared the winner.
In an attempt to win a third term last year, Bashir and his party unsuccessfully challenged an amendment to the constitution, demanding that any presidential term limit expire after the current term ends in 2020.
Bashir, now 75, is accused by international prosecutors of orchestrating genocide and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region.
During his more than three decades in power, he and his Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement have won every presidential election held, a fact easily overlooked by many Sudanese.
The government of Bashir has left much of the population in poverty. People have been murdered and tortured simply for speaking out against the government, as have journalists and political dissidents.
Several arrests of journalists and bloggers by Sudanese security forces have also been well documented, as have large-scale arrests by the security forces of anti-government protesters.
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