|Freed opposition leader Hassan Turabi, speaking outside his home, yesterday criticized the president. (Zohra Bensemra/ Reuters)|
Sudan releases president's chief rival
KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudan freed a senior opposition leader yesterday who was jailed after urging the president to face war crimes charges, an apparent attempt to show unity as the country defies an international order to bring its leader to trial over bloodshed in Darfur.
Hassan Turabi, an Islamist who helped bring President Omar al-Bashir to power but now is his top rival, is the only Sudanese politician who has dared say Bashir should surrender to an international court. Turabi was jailed for seven weeks, a move criticized both internationally and locally.
The government appears to be confident that freeing Turabi ensures his Popular National Congress Party will ultimately stand behind the president.
At his home in Khartoum yesterday, Turabi criticized Bashir's defiance of the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court and condemned the government's expulsion of major foreign aid groups from Darfur in retaliation for the warrant.
Also yesterday, a spokesman for the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur said gunmen ambushed peacekeepers last night, wounding four.
The attack was the first reported violence against peacekeepers since the arrest warrant for Bashir was issued last week.