Sudan arrests Islamist opposition leader: Party

Sudanese authorities have arrested Islamist opposition leader and closed down his newspaper.

Updated: May 16, 2010, 16:26 PM IST

Khartoum: Sudanese authorities on Sunday arrested Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi and closed down his newspaper a month after the country`s first competitive polls in two decades, party officials said.

"At around midnight (2100 GMT Saturday), a group of security officers arriving in three cars, came and took Hassan al-Turabi from his home," his secretary Awad Babakir said.

In a dawn raid a few hours later, authorities confiscated the newspaper of Turabi`s Popular Congress Party and arrested the paper`s editor-in-chief.

"After the arrest of the secretary general of the Popular Congress Party, security authorities stormed the printing house of the daily Rai al-Shaab and confiscated all copies of the paper," Kamal Omar, head of the PCP`s politburo said.

"Authorities then took over the newspaper offices in central Khartoum and ordered all the journalists to leave," he said.

The paper`s editor-in-chief, Abuzerr Ali al-Amin, said by telephone that he had been detained.

"At around 9:10 am (0610 GMT), a group of security and intelligence officials came to my house, put me in a car and took me to one of their offices," Amin said.

"They have not told me the reason for my detention and after two hours I have still not been questioned," he said.

The former southern rebel Sudan People`s Liberation Movement -- partners in a coalition government-- condemned Turabi`s arrest as illegal.

"The arrest is outside the law, it is rejected. It is a violation of the constitution," SPLM senior member and former presidential candidate Yasser Arman said.

"After stealing the election, (the ruling National Congress Party) should not be stealing freedoms. This arrest exposes their weakness," Arman said. "Constitutional rights must be respected for Dr Turabi and others."

Turabi, once President Omar al-Beshir`s mentor but now one of his fiercest critics, had denounced last month`s elections as fraudulent and said his party would not join a future government.

Bureau Report