Sudan’s ousted president Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Monday arrived amid heavy security at the courthouse in the capital Khartoum where he is facing corruption charges, a Reuters witness said.
Bashir is charged with illicit possession of foreign currency and accepting gifts in an unofficial manner, prosecutor Alaa al-Din Abdallah said in June.
His trial will be a test of how serious authorities are about trying to erase the legacy of his autocratic 30-year rule, marked by widespread violence, economic collapse and the secession of South Sudan.
Bashir was also charged in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters, and prosecutors also want him questioned over suspected money laundering and terrorism financing.
On Saturday, Sudan’s ruling military council, which took over after Bashir was ousted in April, signed a power-sharing agreement with the main opposition coalition, paving the way for a transitional government and eventual elections. It sets up a sovereign council as the highest authority in the country, but largely delegates executive powers to the cabinet of ministers.
TRANSITIONAL RULE DELAYED
The sovereign council was due to be sworn in on Monday. But the spokesman for the Transitional Military Council, Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi, said the formation of the new ruling body would be delayed by 48 hours on the request of the opposition coalition.
That coalition – the Forces of Freedom and Change – had chosen Aisha Mousa, Siddig Tower, Mohamed Elfaki Suleiman, Hassan Sheikh Idris and Taha Othman Ishaq as its representatives on the council, a coalition source said on Sunday.
But the Sudanese Professionals Association, the main protest organizer and one of the most prominent coalition members, said on Monday that Ishaq had declined to take up his post.
According to the power-sharing deal, the opposition coalition is allowed to choose five members and the military another five, with the two sides jointly choosing a civilian as an eleventh member.
On Saturday Kabbashi told Sky News Arabia that military council head Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, his deputy General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Lieutenant General Yasser Al-Atta will serve as three of the five military members.
The military council has yet to announce the other two members, but Kabbashi said on Monday that the eleventh member had been agreed by both sides.
Stability in Sudan, which has been grappling with an economic crisis, is seen as crucial for a volatile region struggling with conflict and insurgencies from the Horn of Africa to Egypt and Libya.