Written by Staff Writer, CNN
The Prime Minister of Sudan is alleging that the country’s armed forces have waged a campaign of “sectarian cleansing” in a five-month campaign that the army has branded “an internal operation.”
After President Omar al-Bashir’s surprise departure on October 25 from Khartoum, President Abdelrahim al-Bashir’s National Congress Party said Friday that the prime minister had handed power over to a new interim leader and called for a “constitutional reform”.
No official response has been forthcoming from the government on the allegations by Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh, who was head of the National Union Party until the army seized control on October 25.
His comments come after the government earlier reported that the clashes in the Nuba Mountains had put a “siege on some of the villages” and taken “a number of lives.”
Speaking to CNN after being freed by the government on Friday, Saleh denied that his comments had been taken out of context, saying that he had “told the truth about what the Sudanese Armed Forces have been doing and what they have been doing to us in the North.”
“The Sudanese army was doing everything to save us,” Saleh said. “We were fighting for one year and half to put up a siege on the villages, so we had to force them to leave and expel them from our country.”
As well as the military operation, Saleh also cited “incitement by Khartoum people to kill the Christians and other communities” as one of the factors behind the incidents.
“I stood with them as I was announcing that the government will open (the routes) of the east coast” to evacuate people, he said.
“What are they willing to do? I don’t know … but I will work for peace and reconciliation.”
Saleh’s comments come as two other leaders in Sudan’s governing party have been accused of being absent from the country.
A doctor who had been wanted by the U.S. Treasury Department since March 2017 has reportedly taken refuge in Qatar, leaving Sudan in the hands of National Congress Party.
The war in the Sudanese Nuba Mountains, which is the de facto region in the rebel-held area of Blue Nile, has claimed upwards of 60,000 lives over the past five years, according to the U.N.
Another three separate rebel groups have also been involved in fighting in the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur, which like Sudan is one of the world’s poorest nations.
Bashir was ousted from power in an August 2015 coup by his then deputy, Ahmed Muawiya. Muawiya was later replaced by Bashir in a coup led by former air force chief Sadiq al-Mahdi.