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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July, 2004, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Fears for Sudan Islamist's health
Hassan al-Turabi
Turabi denies his party's involvement in a coup plot
The wife of Sudan's opposition Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi says she is worried about his health after almost two weeks on hunger strike.

Wisal al-Mahdi told Reuters news agency that her husband had been bitten by a rat and she was worried about rabies, as well as poor prison conditions.

She also said that his family had been denied access for 17 days.

He was arrested in March in connection with an alleged coup plot linked to the conflict in the region of Darfur.

"The conditions in which he is being kept are appalling," Mrs Mahdi said.

Sanctions threat

She said that the prison authorities had put Mr Turabi on a salt drip.

Twelve members of Mr Turabi's Popular Congress party were released on Monday. Another 36 were charged last week with plotting to stage a coup.

Mr Turabi has denied his party was involved in any plot.

But he has criticised the government's policy in Darfur, where some one million people have fled their homes.

The government has promised to disarm the Arab Janjaweed militia, which is accused of "ethnic cleansing" against the region's non-Arabic groups.

On Monday, the US said that Sudan had not lived up to these promises and repeated that it faced the threat of international sanctions if the violence did not stop.

Mr Turabi is a former ally of President Omar al-Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.

He was previously detained in 2001 after a power struggle with Mr Bashir - and was released from house arrest in October last year.

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