Sudan Protesters Skeptical of Reports Bashir Transferred to Prison

KHARTOUM, SUDAN Reports citing relatives of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir say the ousted leader has been moved from house arrest to prison. But protesters who are demanding civilian leadership, instead of the transitional military council, are skeptical.

Reports on Wednesday said the ousted former president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, has been moved from house arrest to federal prison.

Unnamed members of Bashir's family told Reuters news agency, the BBC, and others he was moved to Kobar prison in Khartoum late Tuesday, while prison guards told CNN they saw Bashir's arrival at the facility.

Kobar prison is where Bashir locked up many of his opponents during his three decades in power.

But some of the thousands of protesters remaining camped outside the Defense Ministry since last Thursday's coup are skeptical.

Protestor Abubakr Ali said there should be proof that the former president was arrested.

He said he doesn't believe that Bashir is in prison and, even if he is in prison, they want a trial for Bashir and his people.

The Sudanese Professional Association, the main protest group, also voiced doubts.

Mohamed Abbas is with the SPA. He said the news remains unconfirmed unless the military council announces it in a press conference. People in the streets and the sit-in are demanding to see photos of the arrest on national TV as well, adds Abbas.

A well-placed source told VOA Wednesday the reports of Bashir's move to the prison were not true and that he was still being held under house arrest.

The protesters have been demanding a return to civilian rule since the military announced Bashir was removed from power and a council would rule Sudan for two years before elections.

Protesters and the international community are pressing the military for a quicker return to civilian government.

The African Union on Monday threatened to freeze Sudan's membership if they do not return civilian rule within two weeks. The European Union echoed that sentiment on Tuesday, refusing to recognize Sudan's military council and urging a civilian transitional government.

But not all protest groups are demanding the military be sidelined.

Sudan's Gathering of Unionists in Opposition party said it would happy if the military council simply included civilians.

Hashim Babiker, a spokesman for the party, said their vision is to form a presidential council with civilians but, they don't mind the military representation as well to protect the demands of the revolution.

The SPA called for bigger protests in Sudan starting Thursday, until the military council hands over power to an elected and qualified civilian government.

Sudan's protests erupted in December over fuel and food shortages then quickly escalated to massive street protests calling for Bashir to step down.

Source: Voice of America