. Africa News .

Army, police shadow looms over Zimbabwe polls
by Staff Writers
Harare (AFP) March 15, 2013

Islamist military men on trial for Sudan plot: lawyer
Khartoum (AFP) March 17, 2013 - A military trial has begun in Sudan for hardcore Islamist officers who allegedly plotted to destabilise the regime late last year, a lawyer said on Sunday.

The government announced in November the arrest of 13 people, including high-profile members of the security forces and a former intelligence chief, for targeting "the stability of the state and some leaders of the state".

"The military court began on Thursday, and today (Sunday) was the second hearing. They are charged under Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) law and the court was headed by SAF generals," said Hashiem Al-Jali.

He could not provide further details but said he is representing one of his relatives, Brigadier Mohammed Ibrahim.

Ibrahim is the most prominent accused soldier and played a role in the 1989 coup which brought the current regime of President Omar al-Bashir to power.

It was not clear exactly how many officers are on trial.

The plot allegations highlighted turmoil within Bashir's Islamist regime, analysts said at the time.

Most of the detained military men are close to a vocal group of ex-civil war volunteer mujahedeen fighters and an elite group within them called Al-Saeohoon or "tourists for the sake of God".

The war veterans, along with a youth movement within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), have called for new national leadership and a return to Islamic values because they said the government is tainted by corruption and other problems.

The alleged plotters were detained without any shots being fired and government officials have released only vague details about the incident.

"The case is not very clear" and the evidence is scant, said a regional political expert who expects the case to last all year.

If convicted, the accused are not likely to face the firing squad, he said, because the government is "scared of Saeohoon."

Authorities also detained Salah Gosh, who served as national intelligence chief until 2009. As he is not a military officer his case will be heard later.

Gosh's brother told AFP he had no information about the trials.

Sudan has experienced at least seven coups or attempted coups in its 56-year history.

Following the plot revelations the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, a think tank, said that a coup to overthrow Bashir's crisis-ridden regime could further destabilise the country.

"A coup or a military campaign to topple the regime would be a very dangerous proposition risking even greater violence and further disintegration," ICG said.

It said Bashir needs to step aside but is crucial to an orderly transition of power, which could be backed by incentives from the international community.

Zimbabweans go to the polls Saturday to vote on a new constitution that would pave the way for elections, but many believe the army and police, not voters, may ultimately decide the country's fate.

While the referendum on the constitution is largely expected to be fair, the main event -- elections slated for July -- may be decided by the outsize influence of a handful of those close to President Robert Mugabe, 89, the country's leader for the past 33 years.

Those allies include police chief Augustine Chihuri, who reportedly told senior police officers at a retreat late last year that anyone who did not support Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), had no business being on the force.

Lest there be any confusion, Chihuri also denounced Mugabe's opponents, including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, as "stooges of the West".

Police officers across the country were also ordered to register as voters, and, reportedly, to vote for ZANU-PF.

Chihuri, a key Mugabe ally, is a veteran of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle. He is also Zimbabwe's longest-serving police chief since independence in 1980.

He is one of many senior security force officials in Mugabe's inner circle.

Oliver Mandipaka, a senior police officer, is reported to have thrown his hat into the ring as a ZANU-PF parliamentary candidate in Buhera, in south-east Zimbabwe.

High-ranking army officers such as Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba have also publicly declared their allegiance to ZANU-PF.

In 2002 Nyikayaramba served as chief election officer of the Electoral Supervisory Commission, but by 2011 he openly described Tsvangirai -- who leads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), ZANU-PF's main competition -- as a security threat.

Takavafira Zhou, a political analyst from Masvingo State University, said high-ranking police and army officers' reach extended deep into the electoral process.

"The security chiefs are the ones calling the tune," said Zhou.

"Their subordinates are among the polling officers and form part of the machinery that can manipulate the vote in favour of ZANU-PF if need be, but I am surprised the MDC is turning a blind eye to all that.

"Security chiefs will determine the outcome and what happens after the outcome, and they will certainly not accept an MDC victory."

Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba was not available for comment.

Already the police force has launched a crackdown, raiding the offices of rights groups and seizing documents and communication equipment.

Activists have been detained and charged in what critics say is a campaign to silence Mugabe's critics and instil fear ahead of the July vote.

"You can already see the state security agents continue to play a significant role to ensure a ZANU-PF victory through the criminalisation of civic society on the basis of trumped-up charges," said Thabani Nyoni, director of the civic group Bulawayo Agenda.

"The whole machinery of intimidation, repression and propaganda has been reawakened and as we approach the elections, where the stakes are higher, they will intensify the campaign to silence any dissenting voices."

Essie Ncube, a political analyst based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, said the security forces "have the potential to destabilise the capacity to have free and fair elections."

But not all observers agree.

Bassie Bangidza, from the University of Zimbabwe's department of security studies, said the military poses no threat to the vote.

"The only way they can influence the elections is by voting," Bangidza said.

Political scientist Ibbo Mandaza, head of the Harare-based Southern African Political and Economic Series (SAPES) Trust, agreed the threat posed by the security forces was exaggerated.

"If they were ever involved in influencing the vote, it was to the extent to which the political leadership has allowed them to do so," Mandaza said.


Related Links
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Get Our Free Newsletters
Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear


I. Coast attack kills six, including two soldiers: army
Abidjan (AFP) March 14, 2013
An armed gang attacked a village in strife-prone western Ivory Coast, leaving at least six people dead, including two soldiers, an army officer said Thursday. "An attack against the village of Zilebly overnight on Tuesday led to the death of six people, including two members of the FRCI (the Ivory Coast Republican Army)," the officer said, asking not to be named. A local journalist said ... read more

MEPs retain ag 'greening' measures

Dead pigs in China river exceed 13,000

Young pigs prefer traditional soybean diet

Nature fans get green fix at Hong Kong flower show

Discards ban could impact seabirds population

Life found in world's deepest ocean spot

New restrictions bite Hong Kong shark fin traders

Pacific's Palau looks at commercial fishing ban

Middle East faces alarming water loss

Drought declared in New Zealand's North Island

Monsoon failure key to long droughts in Southwest

Earth Is Warmer Today Than During 70 to 80 Percent of the Past 11,300 Years

The household carbon emission per capita in Northwestern China is only 2.05 tons CO2 per year

Court battle looms over Chile power plant

California Ranked First in the US for Green Jobs Last Year

Opportunities And Obstacles Fulfilling California's Nation-Leading Energy Policies

Researchers building stronger, greener concrete with biofuel byproducts

Biobatteries catch breath

Biodiesel algae: Starvation diets damage health

Using photosynthesis to make chemical compounds

Walker's World: The best news yet

US welcomes Albania offer to resettle Iran exiles

US military member suing over Japan nuke disaster

Technology Changing The Future of Home Security

China to more than double air monitoring network

Little faith in China leaders' pollution promises

Dead pigs contaminating Chinese river?

Toxic gas leak in South Korea, 11 hospitalised

Lego to build Chinese factory to serve Asia

One of Europe's longest ice highways opens in Estonia

Kyrgyzstan PM to head gold mine talks

Chinese teaching growing in US, helped by Beijing

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement