Thursday, 19 September, 2019

Corruption trial of ousted Sudanese leader al-Bashir to start

Omar Hassan al-Bashir Omar Hassan al-Bashir
Patty Aguilar | 20 August, 2019, 11:32

The deposed leader faces charges related to "possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally".

That quickly morphed into a nationwide anti-government protest movement demanding Bashir relinquish power.

Worldwide congratulations poured in after the signing, which revellers and officials alike hailed as the beginning of a "new Sudan" after 30 years of rule by the now-detained Omar Al-Bashir.

The trial comes because the composition of the joint civilian and navy sovereign council that may steer the nation of 40 million by way of a 39-month transition was on account of be unveiled on Monday.

Radio Dabanga reported in April that a substantial amount of cash was seized during a search of Bashir's residence in Khartoum.

One of Sudan's top generals, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is deputy head of the military council, and representative of the opposition Alliance for Freedom and Change umbrella group, Ahmad al-Rabie, formally signed the agreement on Saturday.

The Transitional Army Council which took over from Bashir and can be dissolved by the creation of the sovereign stated the announcement had been delayed on the request of the opposition.

But the military council's spokesman, Lt. Gen. Shams Al Din Kabashi, said the pro-democracy movement withdrew its appointees to the council, saying it would hold more consultations among its factions.

The sovereign council would include five members selected by the TMC, five picked by the main opposition coalition, and one agreed upon by both sides.

Othman, a key protest negotiator, himself said earlier on Monday he was withdrawing his nomination because of "confusion and divisions" within the SPA.

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The ruling sovereign council is to be comprised of six civilians and five military nominees. An eleventh, independent member was also agreed on, though his identity has not been revealed, Kabashi said.

It will be headed by a general for the first 21 months and by a civilian for the remaining 18 months.

Mr Bashir - who was in a cage in the courtroom, dressed in traditional white robes and a turban - listened to the testimony but did not comment.

"This historic achievement is the culmination of months of negotiations and the result of the steadfast and peaceful resolve of the Sudanese people, especially the women and youth, for a democratic transition in Sudan", he said.

The first session of al-Bashir's trial was supposed to begin on July 31, but it was delayed to August 17 as he failed to appear before the court for security reasons.

The charges against Bashir are partly related to millions of United States dollars, euros and Sudanese pounds found in cash in his home a week after his ouster in April.

The ousted president arrived amid heavy security at the courthouse in the capital Khartoum where he is facing corruption charges, a witness said.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of ordering the massacre of residents of western Sudan between 2003 and at least 2008 during the Darfur Conflict.

In May, the prosecutor general said Bashir had been charged with the killings of protesters during the anti-government demonstrations that eventually led to his downfall.

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