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US 'concern' over Sudan ex-PM arrest

Sudanese political and religious leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the Umma Party and Imam of the Sufi sect Ansar, holds a press conference in Cairo on April 2, 2009The US embassy urged Sudan on Thursday to respect freedom of expression, after state security agents arrested former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi for reportedly accusing a counter-insurgency unit of abuses. In a statement, the embassy expressed “deep concern” over the Saturday detention of Umma Party chief Mahdi. Observers have said Mahdi’s arrest, by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), undermines talks launched by President Omar al-Bashir to find a way out of the multiple crises gripping the impoverished, war-torn country.

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