Washington denies role in alleged Sudan plot

The American embassy in Khartoum denied Monday allegations by Sudanese officials that the US was involved in an alleged plot to destabilise the government.“We categorically deny any connection with this alleged conspiracy,” the US embassy said in a statement.

Sudanese authorities arrested Saturday a prominent opposition figure, a former minister and over a dozen other people saying they were planning to threaten “the country’s political and developmental stability,” the official SUNA news agency said. The US embassy said it had noticed a statement in the media by top presidential adviser Nafie Ali Nafie “accusing the US of involvement” in the alleged plot.

“We do not know if this plot is real, but it is a distraction of the real challenges facing Sudan” the embassy said, citing the “suffering of millions of innocent people” in Darfur and the government’s slowness in fulfilling a separate peace deal in southern Sudan.

Opposition party members said police stormed the houses of several suspects on Saturday, arresting Mubarak Fadil along with former Minister of Tourism Abdel Jelil Basha, and 14 others.

A cousin of former Prime Minister Sadiq Mahdi, Fadil, 57, became an assistant to the Sudanese president before rejoining the opposition in 2004. He leads a splinter faction of the Umma Party, one of Sudan’s largest.

An official from Fadil’s Umma Reform and Renewal Party, Mahdi Bakheet, held a press conference on Sunday to denounce the government sweep. Bakheet, who is also Fadil’s lawyer, said the accusations made by the government were “fabricated and baseless”. He was arrested immediately after giving his press conference, witnesses said, raising the number of detainees to 17.

The semiofficial Sudan Media Centre said Saturday that Fadil was arrested along with a number of retired army generals, and accused the detainees of having plotted to bring gunmen into Khartoum to destabilise the capital. The news agency quoted what it described as a high-ranking security official close to the case.

Sudan’s council of ministers praised security services for the arrests. The ministers condemned “any attempt that threatens the country’s political and developmental stability, endangers the citizens’ safety or cripples the democratic process”, SUNA said.

The Cabinet said the suspects were allegedly caught “24 hours before they implemented their sabotage attempt”, SUNA said.

Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Fadil had sought support from Libya. The officials said Libya had turned him down and informed Sudanese authorities.

Other officials had alleged a “great power” was involved in the plot, but Ali Nafie, a hardline adviser to President Omar Bashir, was the first to explicitly refer to the US. Nafie did not name the US, but said in a statement that the “subversive plot” was linked to “local and international circles… represented in the declared and renewed economic siege against the country.”

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