KHARTOUM, Feb 20 – Sudan’s Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi, who is seeking a “popular revolution” in the country, on Sunday accused government intelligence agents of bugging his offices.
At a news conference the veteran politician produced three short sets of wire, each connected to a tiny metal or plastic box. He said they were bugging devices found in the electrical sockets of two meeting rooms at his Popular Congress Party headquarters on Wednesday.
“I accuse the security service directly,” said Turabi, a former mentor who became a critic of President Omar al-Bashir.
“We went to the police but we know that they are not authorised to do anything against the security service,” he said.
Turabi said the party searched and found the bugs after they became suspicious of how intelligence agents claimed to have obtained an internal party analysis about Sudanese politics.
They falsely accused the party of planning a coup, in combination with a popular uprising, he said.
“We don’t have many secrets,” and have already announced the goal of removing the regime, Turabi added.
“Our plan is not to remove it by military means but through a popular revolution.”
Ibrahim al-Sonosi, a deputy of Turabi, has been in custody since his arrest at Khartoum airport without explanation in December.
Turabi himself was jailed for more than three months last year after warning that Sudan likely faced a revolt similar to what occurred in Tunisia, where veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted. He was the first leader toppled in the “Arab Spring” uprisings around the region.
Turabi was a key figure in Bashir’s regime for a decade after he took power in a 1989 coup. Many believed Turabi was the real force behind a drive to implement rigorous Islamic practices.
Sudan became a notorious refuge for militant Islamists, including Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden, resulting in Khartoum being accused of sponsoring terrorism and its subsequent blacklisting by governments from the United States to Egypt.
Turabi then fell out with Bashir after a protracted power struggle, was jailed, and became one of the president’s fiercest critics.