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Sudanese president says Turabi’s followers are involved in JEM coup

June 15, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir accused an Islamist opposition party of involvement in the attack perpetrated by the Justice and Equality Movement on the Sudanese capital last May.

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Hassan al-Turabi

In an interview with Al-Jazeera TV broadcasted on Saturday, President al-Bashir described JEM as "the military wing of the Popular Congress Party" (PCP) led by Hassan al-Turabi, the Islamist leader and his former mentor.

Al-Bashir said investigation with the rebels arrested after the foiled coup revealed that PCP elements were involved in the 10 May coup. He added that Turabi had been summoned by the security service to interrogate him about links of his party with the rebel group.

Following difference between the Sudanese Islamists over the future of the regime ten years after their coup d’Etat of 1989, al-Bashir sacked Turabi from his position as speaker of the parliament in 1999 and banned political activities f his followers. Khalil Ibrahim and other leading members of JEM are seen as Turabi’s adepts.

Despite the denial by JEM leaders of any link with al-Turabi, the ruling National Congress Party still considers JEM as part of the Sudanese Islamist Movement and al-Turabi party particularly. Earlier this year, Turabi and Bashir started talks on the reunification of the movement before the next year elections.

But the talks failed due to NCP intransigence to include Khalil Ibrahim in the deal. According to reliable sources JEM leader asked — among others — the position of the Vice-President of the republic, a matter that Khartoum rejected.

Turabi animated by his desire to unify the Islamist movement in the country didn’t take in consideration the firm opposition of his lieutenants who deem that the Islamist movement has no interest to link itsself with the NCP.

On May 12, the Sudanese security service arrested Hassan al-Turabi and more than fifteen leading members of the PCP. Turabi was released twelve hours later; but the rest of the PCP members are still under arrest.