Sudan: supporters of ex-spymaster Salah Gosh organised rally as part of initiative for his return to the country

    November 8, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – On Saturday, November 5, 2022, dozens of supporters of the former director of the dissolved National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) Salah Abdallah Gosh, organized a rally in Meroe city of the Northern state as part of a popular initiative for his return to the country.

    Eyewitnesses in the area told Sudan Tribune that his supporters launched a campaign calling for Gosh’s return in the city’s market, where they posted his pictures with slogans glorifying him and expressing solidarity. After that the crowd moved into a large hall inside a branch of Omdurman Islamic University in Meroe, chanting slogans linking political reforms to Gosh’s return.

    Why is this important?
    The event sheds light on the man who has been in self-imposed exile in Egypt since the fall of Omer al-Bashir’s regime in April 2019. In addition, it has raised many questions about his political future, especially as Islamists accuse him of being behind the overthrow of the Bashir regime.

    How did it start?

    During a meeting for the Islamists in Northern State held in Meroe in October 2022 in solidarity with the National Congress Party, detained leaders who hail from the Northern and River Nile states, an unknown person broke into the main platform and called for solidarity with Salah Gosh.

    Islamic activist al-Fadel Farah who took part in that meeting told Sudan Tribune, “A man came to the speakers’ podium and called to participate in an initiative for the return of Lieutenant General Salah Gosh.”

    “The man was unknown to the majority of the audience and the political activists from the region,” added Farah.

    The attendees were upset with the invitation to a meeting in support of Gosh. The son of one of the leaders of the National Congress Party expressed his objection because it contradicts the idea of solidarity with the detainees. Indeed, an internal NCP report described members of the Bashir regime’s security committee – including Gosh – as “treasonous” for their responsibility for imprisoning NCP detainees.

    Who is behind calls for Gosh return?
    The sources that Sudan Tribune spoke to ruled out that the dissolved Islamist party had any role in supporting the intelligence man or calling for his return to the country.

    An Islamist local leader in the Northern state told Sudan Tribune that for weeks he had been hearing about the initiative without finding who backs it.

    “I can confirm that the NCP has nothing to do with this initiative, otherwise I would be the first to know. It appeared first as an ambiguous call, then it intensified through social media. Perhaps whoever launched it initially wanted to create a consensus on it among the people of the region before announcing it officially on November 5,” he added.

    No impact on the youth
    “There is no impact of this initiative among the associations, youth forums and their clubs here in Meroe. We only hear about it in the media, and we receive calls and posters with elegant designs that attribute the initiative to the sons of the Northern and Meroe, but no one knows its source,” Hossam, a youth activist who lives on the outskirts of Meroe told Sudan Tribune.

    Donations flowing
    With the increase of the media campaign and close to the launch of the initiative, WhatsApp groups have been established.

    Saif Eddine from Amri village points out that over 40 WhatsApp have been created. He added that large financial donations have been collected, but denied knowledge of the identity of the people who run these groups or who collect the money.

    Tribal cover
    The famous Tambour artist, Mohamed al-Nasri, is the most known figure among the supporters of the initiative. He appeared in a video widely circulated.

    “The initiative of the people of the Northern state for the return of Lieutenant General Salah Gosh, is long overdue. I will be the first to participate in any celebration after his return,” al-Nasri said.

    Gosh used to hire artists and creators during his political career. Al-Nasri had previously participated in his electoral campaign alongside the poet Elsir Osman al-Tayeb.

    For his part, Mutasim al-Mansori, a political activist from the Amri region, believes that there is a security or intelligence agency that wants to give this project a tribal character.

    “This initiative is not in line with the behaviour and nature of people who are more disciplined and observe the law than their commitment to the tribe,” al-Mansori said.

    “The locals are mostly uninterested in politics in general, and also see their indifference to Salah Gosh’s presence or absence. Everyone is preoccupied with his livelihood,” he further stressed.

    Political analysts suggest that leaders of the ousted regime resort to the tribe or region to rally support for a future political role.

    Mohamed Tahir Ella, the last prime minister under ousted President Omar al-Bashir, returned from his self-imposed exile in Cairo on October 1, 2022, 3 years after the fall of the regime, and received a great welcome from tribal components in eastern Sudan.

    The Islamic thinker Hassan Makki told Sudan Tribune that the situation in Sudan is based on the ego state in the sense of “I am above the party and my party, sect or tribe above the homeland. This situation will only be addressed by reversing the priorities so that the homeland will be in the first place.”

    Makki points out that the prevailing equation in Sudan now compels people to do so, as there are blatant foreign interventions and money paid. The theatre of unreasonableness prevails, which cannot take place in any country except Sudan.

    “So if someone comes and his tribe takes sides with him in the East or in Meroe, it’s not a big deal in the midst of these foreign interventions,” he added.

    Does Gosh want to return home?
    According to an Islamist leader based in Meroe, who preferred anonymity, the former intelligence chief discussed his return with close associates, conveying to them his suspicions about three obstacles, the least of which was the prosecution, especially since several requests for his handover had been sent to Egypt.

    “The biggest dilemma for Gosh, as he said, is the U.S. sanctions imposed on his person, which need to be settled before his return, in addition to the problems that arose between him and the Islamists who accuse him of treason;” he added.

    Also, other sources talk that Gosh’s health condition may be a decisive factor in his staying outside the country. He recently appeared emaciated after losing a lot of weight.

    Gosh had been dismissed from his position in 2009, under mysterious circumstances. In November 2012 he was detained for seven months as he was charged with involvement in a coup attempt. Then he was released without any details.

    Unexpectedly, at the beginning of 2018, al-Bashir reappointed him as director of the Intelligence and Security Services. He sacked the agency’s senior officials and brought some to trial. He is accused of playing a key role in the collapse of al-Bashir to avenge his rivals in the Islamist movement.

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    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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