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Sudan's former spy chief resists arrest over $1bn bank account

Prosecutors say Salah Gosh was to be questioned over an account containing funds only accessible to him, but that his guards prevented arrest
Gosh, the former head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service, resigned from his post last month (AFP)

Sudanese prosecutors ordered the arrest of the country's former intelligence chief for questioning on financial matters, but his guards blocked his detention, the prosecutor's office said on Tuesday.

Salah Abdallah Mohamed Salah, known as Salah Gosh, was to be questioned over a bank account containing 46bn Sudanese pounds ($1bn) that was accessible only to him, the office said.

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Gosh, the former head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), resigned from his post last month.

He had overseen a sweeping crackdown led by NISS agents against protesters taking part in four months of mass demonstrations that led up to the toppling of longtime president Omar al-Bashir on 11 April.

In March, Middle East Eye revealed that Gosh had held secret talks with the head of Mossad in Germany in February as part of a plot hatched by Israel's Gulf allies to elevate him to the presidency if Bashir was toppled from power. 

CIA connections

Gosh was well known in the US, where he earned a reputation during the 2000s as a spy chief with whom the CIA could work in the "war on terror" against al-Qaeda. Gosh even visited the US in 2005 when, as now, Sudan was listed by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Gosh headed NISS between 2004 and 2009, when Bashir appointed him as his national security adviser.

He was sacked in 2011 and later arrested on suspicion of involvement in a coup plot, but was released with a presidential pardon in 2013.

He was reappointed as the head of NISS in February 2018.

Amnesty International has called for the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) to investigate Gosh's role in the killing of demonstrators during the recent protests against Bashir.

Last week, the prosecutor charged Bashir and others with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters.

The public prosecutor ordered Bashir to be interrogated on charges of money laundering and financing terrorism earlier this month. 

There has been no comment from Bashir, who is imprisoned in Khartoum.

General strike

After Bashir was ousted following his 30-year rule, the Sudanese army set up the TMC to rule the country and promised to hand control over after elections.

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But, wary of the example of neighbouring Egypt, where the head of the army Abdel Fattah el-Sisi eventually became president after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Sudanese protesters have sought guarantees of civilian control.

Protest leaders called on their supporters on Tuesday to prepare for a general strike, after talks with the country's military rulers stalled on who will lead an agreed three-year transition.

Protest leaders had reached agreement with the TMC on the other main aspects of the transition.

But early on Tuesday, the generals baulked at protesters' demands for a civilian head and a civilian majority for a new sovereign council to lead the transition.