World Bulletin/News Desk
Hundreds of supporters of detained Sudanese opposition leader Al-Sadek al-Mahdi demonstrated outside his party's Khartoum headquarters on Friday to demand his release.
Protesters converged on the National Umma Party (NUP)'s headquarters in western Khartoum's Omdurman district following Friday noon prayers to demand the release of al-Mahdi, who was arrested earlier this month.
Skirmishes broke out between protesters and security forces after the latter used teargas to disperse a group of demonstrators shouting anti-government slogans on their way to the march.
Security forces also cordoned off the area around the NUP's headquarters.
According to the official summons for al-Mahdi, the 78-year-old veteran politician is accused by security and intelligence bodies of defaming security and intelligence personnel currently working with the Sudanese army in the western Darfur region, an NUP stronghold.
Al-Mahdi, for his part, dismisses the charges against him as "null and void."
Al-Mahdi's abrupt detention came after tension had appeared to ease between opposition forces and President Omar al-Bashir – who overthrew al-Mahdi's elected government in 1989 – after al-Bashir had invited the opposition to take part in a national dialogue initiative.
In recent months, opposition forces have criticized Sudanese police fighting alongside the army in Darfur, which the Darfur rebels accuse of staging attacks based on ethnicity.
Darfur has been ravaged by conflict since 2003, when three homegrown rebel groups took up arms against the Khartoum government.
The U.N. says that some 300,000 people have been killed in the long-running conflict and some 1.8 million displaced.Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2014, 10:41