November 20, 2019 / 5:04 PM / 18 days ago

Sudan's top Islamist politician sent to prison holding Bashir

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan’s most prominent Islamist politician was arrested on Wednesday after being summoned for questioning over former leader Omar al-Bashir’s rise to power in a 1989 coup, a senior official from his party said.

FILE PHOTO: A protester makes victory sign as he carries a Sudanese flag in front of the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

The investigation into Ali al-Haj, secretary general of the Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP), is a significant step against the Islamist political networks that supported Bashir, who was overthrown in April.

The official, who declined to be named, told Reuters Haj reported to investigators on Wednesday evening after the public prosecution summoned him and was then arrested and transferred to Khartoum’s Kobar prison, where Bashir is also being held.

Authorities went to Ali al-Haj’s home on Wednesday to inform him he was being summoned for questioning by the public prosecution, Idris Suleiman, the party’s political secretary, told Reuters. There has been no official comment.

“Ali al-Haj is a political leader and not a military man to be charged over the 1989 coup and he was abroad when that coup happened,” Suleiman said.

Haj has not been questioned yet, the senior official said. It is unclear when he will be.

Some of Bashir’s aides were arrested after his overthrow.

PCP was founded by the late Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, who was one of Sudan’s most influential political figures, after a dispute with the former ruling National Congress Party (NCP) led by Bashir. The party later became an ally of the NCP.

The Islamist party has complained of being sidelined in Sudan’s transitional political process following Bashir’s departure.

The current transitional government was formed in September after a power-sharing deal between anti-Bashir groups and the Transitional Military Council that ruled the country after Bashir’s overthrow.

(The story corrects to say Haj (not Bashir) has not been questioned in paragraph 6)

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Yousef Saba and Mahmoud Mourad; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Philippa Fletcher

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