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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 17:44 GMT
Sudan opposition charged with sedition
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir
The opposition accuse Bashir of dirty tricks before elections
The authorities in Sudan have arrested at least six opposition figures and accused them of plotting an armed uprising with an American diplomat.

The diplomat, Glenn Warren, who was observing a meeting of the opposition National Democratic Alliance when police arrested the Alliance members, has been ordered to leave the country.

The men have been accused of planning a popular uprising, backed by military action, and of trying to capture towns and sabotage installations with US help.

We seized documents with the persons arrested, and they go in line with the current US policies that target the Sudanese Government

Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail
The action comes just days before the country is due to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections.

The NDA, an umbrella organisation for southern and northern opposition groups, has denounced the action, saying it was an ordinary meeting.

Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail, said the US diplomat was "caught in a meeting with leaders of non-registered political organisations and was discussing with them issues related to Sudanese security and stability."

Strained relations

There was no immediate comment from the US embassy in Khartoum.

A BBC correspondent in the region, Caroline Hawley, says relations between Sudan and the US are at an extremely low point.

Former Sudanese prime minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi
Sadiq al-Mahdi has reportedly ruled out power-sharing proposals
She says the Sudanese government was infuriated by a visit last month to rebel-held areas of the south by senior American official Susan Rice.

Mrs Rice denounced what she called the heinous practrice of slavery in Sudan.

Washington, which considers Sudan a sponsor of international terrorism, does not base diplomats in Khartoum on a permanent basis.

The embassy is staffed on a rotating basis by US diplomats based in other countries.

Umma negotiations

In a separate move, Sudan's former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi is reported to have ruled out sharing power with the Islamist government of President Omar al-Bashir.

President al-Bashir was reported last week to be considering some form of power-sharing with Mr al-Mahdi, who has recently returned from a self-imposed, four-year exile.

But Mr al-Mahdi was quoted in the Akhbar al-Yom newspaper as saying negotiations between the government and his Umma party had been more limited.

He said Umma could not support what he described as a totalitarian government.

Mr al-Mahdi was elected prime minister in 1986 and was overthrown three years later in a coup led by Mr al-Bashir.

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See also:

06 May 00 | Africa
Analysis: Power struggle in Sudan
30 Nov 00 | Africa
Sudan power sharing talks
26 Nov 99 | Africa
Sudan peace deal struck
17 Jan 00 | Africa
Sudan's decades of war
19 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Sudan
24 Nov 00 | Africa
Sudan celebrations continue
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