Saudi Arabia supports secure, stable Sudan

Sudan's deposed military ruler Omar Al-Bashir stands in a defendant's cage during the opening of his corruption trial in Khartoum, Monday. — AFP

JEDDAH — Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, affirmed Saudi Arabia’s support for Sudan and its people to enhance security and stability in the country following the signing of a historic agreement.

During the phone calls made with Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, president of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, and Ahmed Rabie, leader of the opposition alliance — the Forces of Freedom and Change — on Sunday, the Crown Prince also congratulated them for the historic agreement reached by all the Sudanese parties, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

The crown prince held telephone conversation with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during which he appreciated the role played by his country in bringing the Sudanese parties together, stressing the Kingdom’s support for all efforts that contribute to the security and stability of the region.

Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman also made phone conversation with Moussa Faki, chairperson of the African Union Commission, to appreciate the efforts exerted in achieving the historic agreement by all Sudanese parties. He further reiterated the Kingdom’s support for achieving the aspirations of the Sudanese people and preserving the security and stability of the country.

On Saturday, Sudan’s opposition leaders formally signed a deal with the Transitional Military Council in Khartoum, paving the way for a transition to a civilian-led government following the overthrow of President Omar Al-Bashir in April. The agreement was signed by the deputy head of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, and Ahmed Rabie, representing the Forces of Freedom and Change opposition alliance, in the presence of regional and international dignitaries including Ethiopian prime minister and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.

Bashar trial begins

In Khartoum, corruption trial of the former president began on Monday. Bashir listened to the testimony against him without comment, sitting in a metal cage and wearing traditional white robes and a turban in his first appearance in the courtroom.

He is charged with illicit possession of foreign currency and accepting gifts in an unofficial manner. Bashir's lawyer dismissed the accusations, telling reports after the hearing it was usual for leaders to hold amounts of foreign currency.

The veteran leader spoke to confirm his name and age. When asked about his residence, Bashir laughed and said: "formerly the airport district, at army headquarters but now Kobar prison," referring to his detention complex.

Bashir weathered multiple rebellions, economic crises, US sanctions and coup attempts until he was overthrown by the military in April after mass protests against his 30-year rule.

His trial will be seen as a test of how serious authorities are about trying to erase the legacy of a rule marked by widespread violence, wars, economic collapse and the secession of South Sudan.

The 75-year-old, who seized power in a coup in 1989, arrived at the courthouse in a convoy with military and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces soldiers.

Family members shouted "Allah-o-Akbar" (God is the Greatest) and he raised his hand in greeting from the courtroom cage.

A small number of family members were permitted inside the cage after the session ended to speak with him. The next hearing was scheduled for Saturday. — Agencies