March 8, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – The release of an Islamist opposition leader from detention by Sudanese authorities today was not a result of any “bargain” his family said.
Sudan has unexpectedly freed the leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan Al-Turabi from Port Sudan jail, almost two months after detaining him over remarks in which he called on president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to surrender to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Al-Turabi’s daughter Omama speaking to Sudan Tribune by phone from the coastal city of Port Sudan said that her father’s health deteriorated this week prompting the need for urgent medical care.
“On our last visit he [Turabi] told us that he had severe cold and after the physician inspected him it was found that his blood pressure has skyrocketed” Omama said.
“This was abnormal since my father does not suffer from blood pressure and it is not in the family” she added.
Omama said that her family pressed the Sudanese authorities to move him immediately to a hospital or have them do it themselves.
Hours after that Turabi was transferred to the Sudanese capital and dropped of at his home while they were still in Port Sudan, she said.
She dismissed speculations that Turabi’s release followed a mediation effort by Arab Islamic scholars with Sudanese president Bashir in return for him reversing positions on the issue of the ICC.
Last January Al-Turabi told reporters that Al-Bashir is “politically culpable” for the war crimes in Darfur and urged him to step down to save his country international isolation.
“He should assume responsibility for whatever is happening in Darfur, displacement, burning all the villages, rapes, I mean systematic rapes, continuously, I mean on a wide scale and the killing” Turabi was quoted as saying.
With the exception of Turabi all opposition leaders have rallied behind Bashir and condemned the ICC move.
Tensions are running high in Sudan after ICC judges issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include murder, rape and torture.
Sudanese officials have vowed to crush any pro-ICC views in the country.