KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudanese Prime Minister Ibrahim Ahmed Osman was briefly detained Wednesday on allegations of corruption and alleged interference in the armed forces, a cabinet spokesman said, amid reports of an apparent coup.
Abdalla Ahmed Osman, the spokesman for the prime minister, said in a statement late Wednesday that he had “temporarily ceased office” and asked the country’s president, Omar al-Bashir, to appoint someone who is “more qualified” to take over.
“Prime Minister Ibrahim Ahmed Osman has declared a temporary suspension of his duties due to incitement by unknown persons against the institutions of the nation, especially the Armed Forces, to penetrate the state in search of power,” the statement said.
Abdalla also denied accusations of a coup and said he wished it were true. “The administration under the leadership of the president of the republic has no desire for dictatorship,” he said.
The Sudanese Observatory for Human Rights said Osman had been detained and held for nine hours but was later released. It said a number of senior regime figures, including Bashir, had been summoned by police for questioning.
Abdalla said the police were investigating six officials from the prime minister’s office who are “suspected of involvement in corruption and for interference in the armed forces.”
“This is the beginning of the stormy campaign against the corrupt and pro-imperialists,” he said.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, Osman said the opposition party Al-Wise and several unidentified group of individuals had provided evidence that he was “unfit to be in the prime minister’s post” and he was in fact “the target of the coup.”
But he denied that he had been sacked and said he was available for a new appointment by Bashir.
Both the prime minister and the president’s spokesman described reports that Osman had been ousted as untrue. The president swore in a new cabinet earlier this week.
Bashir, who has ruled Sudan for nearly three decades, returned from months of self-imposed exile in April, trying to rally support for the government ahead of elections in 2020. But at least some opposition parties did not send a list of their candidates.