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Sudan frees ex-spy chief held over coup plot

Salah Gosh was arrested last November along with 12 army officers on suspicion of involvement in a coup attempt.

Last Modified: 10 Jul 2013 20:38
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The government said Gosh, right, was arrested after it foiled a coup attempt in which he was implicated [AFP]

Sudan has freed a former spy chief after clearing him of charges that he was involved in an alleged coup attempt against veteran President Omar Hassan al-Bashir last year.

Salah Gosh, who was arrested last November along with 12 army and security officers, was released on Wednesday.

The government said Gosh was arrested after it foiled a coup attempt in which he was implicated, but officials have provided few details about the alleged coup.

"The prosecutor dropped the charges for lack of evidence against me. Some people also helped by mediating for me," Gosh told the Reuters news agency during a welcome reception at his palatial home, adding that he was grateful to Bashir for releasing him.

Gosh never stood trial over the charges and he was set free on the first day of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Bashir has already pardoned six security officers and nine army officers implicated in the alleged coup attempt, days after courts handed out jail terms to them.

Bashir has ruled Sudan for 23 years, weathering rebellions, years of US trade sanctions, an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court and the loss of most of the country's oil with South Sudan's 2011 secession.

But the alleged plot attempt amplified a debate about the president's future and about who might one day replace him.

High food prices in Sudan caused by the loss of oil - and with it the source of foreign currency used to import food – has stoked some protests against Bashir since the South seceded in July 2011.

Some ultra-conservatives inside the army and the ruling National Congress Party have also complained that Bashir and other senior leaders have abandoned the Muslim values of the 1989 coup and have concentrated decision-making in the hands of a few people.

But Sudan has avoided the turmoil and mass protests which have unseated rulers in other North African countries such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

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