Sudan arrests opposition leader Turabi

Sudanese security forces arrested opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi, witnesses said, a day after his party called for a "popular revolution".

Sudan arrests opposition leader Turabi

Sudanese security forces on Tuesday arrested opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi, witnesses said, a day after his party called for a "popular revolution" if Khartoum did not reverse price rises.

"They just took him with lots of security cars, they clashed with one of his staff and also arrested him," Turabi's secretary Awad Babiker told Reuters from the scene early on Tuesday.

Sudan's opposition threatened on Sunday to take to the streets if the government did not remove its finance minister and dismantle parliament over the decision to raise prices on a range of goods.

The price increases have sparked student protests in the country's northern agricultural heartland.

Turabi's arrest comes as Tunisia grappled with the fallout from the ouster of its long-time president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the country on Friday after three weeks of violent unrest sparked by social grievances.

Ben Ali's overthrow has reverberated across the Arab world, raising concerns about stability in other countries in the region which share the same mix of social, economic and political problems as Tunisia.

Turabi's arrest also comes at a politically sensitive time for the government of President Omar Hassan al Bashir, who stands to lose control over the oil-producing south in a referendum.

Sudan is also deep in economic crisis with a current account deficit and currency devaluation driving up inflation.

This month Khartoum cut subsidies on petroleum products and key commodity sugar, prompting protests over the past week, quelled only by police firing tear gas.

Islamist leader Turabi has been in and out of jail since his split from Bashir's ruling party in 1999/2000.

Security forces blocked Turabi's road and five police cars full of heavily armed forces escorted him away as his watching family cried "God is Greatest", two witnesses said.

Khartoum has long feared Turabi's influence, believing many of his supporters still remain in key positions of the army and security services.

Turabi was freed after a 2005 north-south peace deal which required all political prisoners be released. But he has since been arrested during times of difficulty for the government, most notably after Darfur rebels launched an unprecedented attack on the capital in 2008.

No charges were brought against him.

His party's newspaper was closed down last year and three staff jailed in trials condemned by rights groups as unfair.


Agencies

Last Mod: 18 Ocak 2011, 09:21
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