6 Bashir rivals held without charges

Published — Wednesday 27 February 2013

Last update 26 February 2013 11:02 pm

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KHARTOUM: Sudan should charge or release six members of opposition political parties which held talks last month with rebel groups on a charter for toppling the government, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.
A coalition of large and small Sudanese opposition parties, as well as community activists, agreed to the New Dawn charter in Kampala, Uganda with insurgents from Sudan’s Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas.
The pact calls for regime change using both armed and peaceful means.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said the politicians were detained “in connection with their participation” in the conference.
“Sudan should release the six detainees or promptly bring credible charges against them,” Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
“These weeks-long detentions violating due process rights underscore the need for a major overhaul of Sudan’s national security agencies and the laws that govern them.”
Among those detained is Mohammed Zain Al-Abdeen, 66, of the Unionist Movement, whose family told Human Rights Watch that he suffers from cancer and diabetes.
Although opposition party representatives endorsed the New Dawn document, it has not yet been formally approved by senior leaders, who said they were still studying it.
The pact proposes replacing the 23-year regime of President Omar Bashir with a “democratic federal state... based on equality,” with a separation between religion and government. Urging such a separation is a violation of the law, as is linking up with the rebels, said senior ruling party official Rabbie Abdelatti Ebaid, who thinks the detainees will be brought before a court.
“This is actually a crime but under the umbrella of political freedom,” he told AFP, accusing New Dawn supporters of wanting to take power “without authorization of the people.”
Ebaid, of the National Congress Party, said Human Rights Watch “should not speak about political crimes against the country.”

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