After a high-level meeting on Saturday to discuss new constitutional reforms, the Sudanese military and ruling National Congress Party officials announced the arrest of the country’s former prime minister and a member of the ruling party.
The Central Committee of the National Congress Party extended the same crime of treason to former Prime Minister Dr. Sadiq al-Mahdi, the military announced.
Sudan’s authoritarian President Omar Bashir had fired al-Mahdi on Thursday after 27 years in office.
Presidential adviser Ibrahim Mahmoud said al-Mahdi would face a trial and put in prison for his role in the rebellion during the Sudanese War, which started in 1983 and lasted until 2005. The war, which is thought to have taken 200,000 lives, ended after South Sudan declared independence.
Last week, Bashir claimed the country was only at war with the rebels from Darfur, not the wider south, which Sudan previously blamed on its “internal” enemies. But al-Mahdi’s sacking seemed to be a sign of his own party, the National Congress Party, attempting to scuttle recent reconciliation efforts between the ruling party and Darfur rebel groups.
The state-run Sudanese Media Center said al-Mahdi had been “withheld from public” after his public remarks that were in violation of military regulations.
Sudan is also apparently at odds with the Islamic Republic of Iran, after Ali al-Sisi, the Egyptian president, rejected a request for military aid from Sudan’s military. During a joint session of the Egyptian and Sudanese parliaments in Egypt, Sisi said Sudan did not need military aid, according to reports.
“There are no exceptions in the rules of your constitution in it not to receive weapons from any country without an agreed upon, clear-cut agreement,” Sisi told Sudanese military leaders on the sidelines of a joint Egyptian-Sudanese parliament meeting. “Your military cannot wage war against anybody except the tribal forces.”
After being appointed by his own predecessor in December 2015, al-Mahdi turned heads and tried to reshape the government and undertake corruption-related reforms by shutting down government offices and closing down the flood of $50 bills flowing through government coffers that has flooded the Sudanese economy since the 2011 debt-fueled standoff between Sudan and South Sudan.
Al-Mahdi also appointed younger people into government positions. Among his appointees were four army generals, including Ibrahim Ibrahim Mohamed from the Sudanese Ground Forces Army. Al-Mahdi replaced Mohammad Mabruk al-Rashid, a more experienced general, with al-Mahdi at his helm.
The Sudanese government has said since he was fired that al-Mahdi did not enjoy the support of key allies in the military.