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Will Egypt heed Sudan’s call to hand over fugitives linked to Bashir’s regime?

During a visit to Cairo, Sudan's prime minister asked Egyptian officials to extradite exiled Sudanese officials who worked with the Omar al-Bashir regime. Sudanese.
Salah Gosh and Kamal Hassan Ali

Sudan is demanding that Egypt hand over wanted persons involved in criminal and political cases. The request came during Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s March 11-12 visit to Cairo.

Khaled Omar Youssef, Sudan’s Cabinet affairs minister, told reporters in Khartoum on March 12 that Hamdok made the request during a meeting with Egypt's intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel, and Sudan’s head of intelligence, Gen. Jamal Abdul Majeed.

During the meeting, Hamdok discussed joint security files and ways to strengthen security cooperation between the two countries, Youssef said.

Youssef said Sudan continues to demand that Egypt hand over wanted Sudanese, whether they are involved in criminal cases or in political activities hostile to Sudan.

Al-Harak Al-Seyasi newspaper reported March 14 that Sudan and Egypt had agreed on the handover of leaders affiliated with former President Omar al-Bashir who fled to Cairo following the mass demonstrations that toppled the regime in April 2019. However, the newspaper added that contacts between officials of the two countries are still ongoing to implement the agreement and hand over the wanted persons. This indicates that Cairo is still studying the matter.

Although Youssef did not reveal any names, Sudanese press reports said Sudan is seeking the extradition of the former head of the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service, Salah Abdallah Mohammed Salih (widely known as Salah Gosh), and Kamal Hassan Ali, Sudan’s delegate to the Arab League. Both were prominent members of Bashir's National Congress Party.

Egypt's ambassador to Sudan, Hossam Issa, said in August that Salih is in Cairo and that his stay was coordinated between the Sudanese and Egyptian leaderships. In an interview with Sudan’s Hakayat newspaper, Issa added that Egypt will not allow any anti-Sudanese revolution activity to be conducted on its territory. 

Despite this commitment, Sudan’s Al-Watan News reported in February that Egyptian authorities had rejected Sudanese prosecutors’ request for the extradition of wanted persons, including Salih and Hassan Ali. The newspaper also reported that a memo attributed to Egyptian authorities indicated that Salih had left Cairo (without specifying the date of his departure or his destination). As for Hassan Ali, he still serves as Sudan’s delegate to the Arab League and assistant to its secretary-general for economic affairs; the memo said the request to extradite him is a political affair.

Article 91 of Egypt’s Constitution states, “The state shall grant political asylum to any foreigner who has been persecuted for defending the interests of peoples, human rights, peace or justice. Extradition of political refugees is forbidden. All of the above is according to the law.”

Sudan’s general prosecutor issued in December 2019 an arrest warrant against Salih, who was considered the second man after Bashir. The warrant indicated that he is a fugitive that needs to surrender himself. Sudanese Attorney General Tag el-Sir el-Hibir said that corruption charges were filed against Salih and that the authorities initiated extradition proceedings through Interpol. Sudan’s Foreign Ministry notified its embassies around the world to annul Salih’s diplomatic passport. 

In August 2019, the United States said it was adding Salih to its travel ban list for human rights violations.

Salih chaired the intelligency agency from 2004 until Bashir dismissed him in 2009. In February 2018, Bashir brought Salih back to the post, where he served until he resigned in April 2019, two days after the Transitional Military Council overthrew Bashir and took power following mass protests.

On Jan. 14, 2020, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the Transitional Military Council, also known as Hemeti, accused Salih of orchestrating a rebellion in the intelligence agency.

At the time, Faisal Saleh, Sudan's interim government spokesman, said in a TV statement that a rebellion by the military operations authority of the intelligence agency took place in some parts of the capital, with some units taking to the streets, setting up barricades and shooting in the air. The situation was quickly brought under control, he added.

Hani Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Countries Unit at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, questioned the credibility of the Sudanese press reports about Salih’s presence in Cairo. He told Al-Monitor  that these reports cannot be fact-checked, particularly since they are unofficial.

As for Hassan Ali, he is wanted by Sudan on charges of being involved in the Ailafoon military camp incidents, a Feb. 22 statement by Sudan's prosecution office said.

On April 2, 1998, dozens of Sudanese conscripts at the Ailafoon military camp were shot dead by soldiers as they attempted to flee the camp for fear of being deployed in South Sudan, where Bashir’s Islamic regime fought a civil war against the rebels. In June 2020, Sudan's public prosecutor said the incident will be reinvestigated after a mass grave was discovered east of Khartoum.

Back then, Hassan Ali was in charge of mandatory conscription, before holding a number of government positions in Sudan, including minister of international cooperation and head of the office of Bashir’s ruling party in Cairo for years. He also served as Sudan’s ambassador to Egypt.

Raslan said Hassan Ali has diplomatic immunity as a result of his duties at the Arab League. There should not be any talk on his extradition unless his term has ended or is terminated at Sudan's request, Raslan added. His term as Sudan’s delegate at the Arab League is expected to end in September.

On Feb. 25, the Sudanese delegation to the Arab League requested that a proposal to end Hassan Ali’s duties be placed on the agenda of the March 3 session. But the session ended without mention of the Sudanese request. 

On March 7, Hassan Ali submitted a memorandum to the Arab League requesting that the Arab League ignore the Sudanese government’s demand to end his duties, saying there were political motives behind their request and indicating that the charges regarding his involvement in the 1998 camp incident are fabricated.

Abdelmoneim Abu Idris, a Sudanese writer and political analyst, told Al-Monitor that the fact that Egypt does not recognize Salih’s presence on its territory makes his extradition a difficult task.

Abu Idris said Hassan Ali will likely leave Egypt for another country once his Arab League term is over and before his extradition request is sent to Cairo. He also said that while Salih and Hassan Ali are the most wanted people, the majority of leaders affiliated with the Bashir regime currently reside in Turkey.

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