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SUDAN: Government says arrested officers plotted coup since 2002

NAIROBI, 1 April 2004 (IRIN) - The Sudanese government has confirmed that 10 military officers and a senior opposition leader, Hasan Abdullah al-Turabi, have been detained. The officers, it said in an official statement, had been planning a coup since 2002.

The statement, sent to IRIN by the Sudanese embassy in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, said the Council of ministers had met in an emergency session on Wednesday, chaired by President Umar Hasan al-Bashir, and was briefed by Defence Minister Maj-Gen Bakri Hasan Salih.

It quoted a government spokesman as saying that the alleged plot had targeted the Al-Jayli Refinery and Garry Electricity Station. The arrested officers were headed by a colonel, it said. Investigations were continuing.

Turabi, it added, was detained for "inciting violence and ethnic and regional conflicts in various states of the country".

International news agencies said he was reportedly arrested by security officials at about 01:30 local time on Tuesday. Earlier, Turabi, the leader of the Popular National Congress party, had told reporters that he feared he might be arrested on allegations of involvement in the purported coup attempt.

Turabi fell out with the president and was detained in 2001. His son, Isam, reportedly visited him on Wednesday morning in a prison in the capital, Khartoum.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese government on Tuesday boycotted the opening session of peace talks in Chad with western rebels in protest at the presence of international observers, international news agencies reported.

The talks in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, were intended to end continuing clashes between government troops and rebels in the western Darfur, where the rebels say they are fighting for greater recognition of the people living there. The talks, a joint initiative by the US and EU, started despite the boycott.

On Wednesday, Sudanese television reported that the government had refused to attend meetings "that had not been previously agreed upon". It said the government delegation would first meet the Chadian mediator before joining the talks. Chadian President Idriss Deby is the mediator.

Theme (s): Conflict,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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