Sudan’s toppled president Omar al-Bashir charged with corruption

Sudan‘s public prosecutor has charged jailed former President Omar al-Bashir with corruption, according to state media.

Al-Bashir was overthrown and arrested in a coup by the military on April 11 after months of mass protests against his 30-year autocratic rule.

The SUNA news agency on Thursday quoted an official source as saying that al-Bashir “had been charged under foreign exchange possession materials, the heinous and suspicious wealth and emergency orders”.

No other details were given.

Al-Bashir, who has not been seen in public since his arrest, had already been charged in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters.

Prosecutors had also ordered his interrogation on suspicion of money laundering and financing terrorism.

“This is a difficult move for the generals running Sudan, because this is the same individual they served for a significant period of time,” Awol Allo, senior lecturer in law at Keele University, told Al Jazeera.

“They enabled his government, they fought on his behalf. And now, for the same political order to turn around and hold this individual accountable is the thing that makes this difficult,” he added.

Eric Reeves, a Sudan researcher at Cambridge University, said he doubted that there would be an open trial because al-Bashir “can point to any number of members of the current transitional military council and to their crimes”.

He told Al Jazeera: “The reason al-Bashir is been charged with corruption is because the transitional military council is trying to deflect attention from its own corruption. The more they can deflect blame onto al-Bashir and declare they are the new day, the more that it becomes possible for them to imagine creating a permanent military junta.”

Talks with US envoy

Sudan was placed on a United States list of “sponsors of terrorism” under al-Bashir, a former general who is also under indictment by the International Court of Justice over alleged war crimes in the country’s western Darfur region.

Meanwhile, Washington’s newly appointed special envoy to Sudan, Donald Booth, along with US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Tibor Nagy, met the military council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Thursday.

Burhan told the US envoys that Sudan and its people had a positive view of US efforts to reach a political settlement, according to a statement released by the military council.

“Burhan expressed Sudan’s aspiration to strengthen its relations with the United States as a superpower that has a positive role which the Sudanese people looks up to,” the military council said in a statement.

US was helping the ongoing political negotiations between the council and the opposition, the statement added.

Washington said Booth had been named to help craft a “peaceful solution” to the crisis that has rocked the northeast African country.

The Alliance for Freedom and Change umbrella protest movement said its leaders had briefed the two US officials on Wednesday on the need for a transparent investigation into the June 3 killings.

They also called for the withdrawal of “militias” from the streets in Khartoum and other towns, the lifting of an internet blockade and the establishment of a civilian administration, it said in a statement.

The US delegation was also expected to meet diplomats of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in Khartoum on Thursday.

Experts say the three regional Arab nations appear to back the generals even as Western countries push for a civilian-led administration in Sudan.

Days after al-Bashir’s overthrow, Saudi Arabia and the UAE offered a three-billion-dollar aid package to Khartoum, including a $500m cash injection into the central bank to help support the Sudanese pound which has plunged since last year against the US dollar.

The AU, which suspended Sudan following the crackdown, said global efforts were being made to resolve the crisis.

“I can say without excess optimism that the discussions that we are holding with each side separately are moving forward to a great extent,” AU Special Envoy to Sudan Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt told reporters on Thursday.

An international team of diplomats was working to resolve the crisis, he added.

AlJazeera | June 13, 2019
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/sudan-toppled-president-omar-al-bashir-charged-corruption-190613173532177.html