Sudan’s intelligence chief on Saturday denied a report that he met the head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency to plan his ascension to the country’s leadership.
Khartoum’s intelligence service said the claim by the London-based Middle East Eye news site was “bare of truth” and “lacks professionalism and objectivity,” according to a report on Turkey’s Anadolu news agency.
“Sudan does not need to move secretly or follow a path that runs against its national principles or policies,” the National Intelligence and Security Service said.
MEE had reported Friday that Salah Gosh had met with Israel’s Yossi Cohen in Germany last month, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. It cited a senior Sudanese military source.
The unconfirmed report said the meeting was arranged by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and that under discussion was Gosh’s potential installment as Sudan’s leader once beleaguered president Omar al-Bashir is toppled from his post.
None of the other nations mentioned in the report have commented on its veracity so far.
The Sudanese source told MEE Arab leaders viewed Gosh as any ally. They hoped Israel could bring Washington on board with the plan, he said.
“There is a consensus that Bashir will go within the ruling party and the army. The battle is about who is coming after,” the source said.
“Gosh has strong links with the Saudis, the Emiratis and the Egyptians. They want Bashir out, and they want their man in his place.”
Gosh boosted cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency following the 9/11 terror attacks and worked with the Americans against al-Qaeda.
Gosh was the head of Sudanese intelligence for years before being fired in 2011. He was later arrested for an alleged attempted coup but was pardoned and freed in 2013.
He was reinstated as intelligence chief last month in a move seen as an attempt by Bashir to appease dissenters.
On Friday Bashir handed his powers as chief of the country’s ruling party to his newly appointed deputy, the National Congress Party said, weeks into protests against Bashir’s rule.
The move came after Bashir last week imposed a year-long state of emergency and dissolved the government in a bid to quell demonstrations and deadly clashes that have rocked the country since December.
The NCP has an overwhelming majority in parliament, and according to its charter, the chief of the party becomes its candidate in presidential elections.
The next presidential election in Sudan is scheduled for 2020.
The NCP was formed a few years after Bashir swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, and he has been party chief ever since.
But protestors have staged regular demonstrations across Sudan since December, accusing the administration of mismanaging the economy and calling on Bashir to step down.
He declared a year-long state of emergency across the country last week after an initial crackdown failed to suppress the protests.
Bashir also dissolved the federal and provincial governments, appointing 16 officers from the army and two from the feared National Intelligence and Security Service as governors of the country’s 18 provinces.
He has pushed on with top-level changes to his administration, including sacking his long-time ally and first vice president Bakri Hassen Saleh, who was replaced by General Awad Ibnouf.
Bashir also ordered the creation of special emergency courts to investigate violations during the state of emergency.
On Thursday, eight protesters were sentenced to jail by emergency courts in Khartoum for participating in unauthorized rallies earlier in the day, the tribunals’ first such rulings.
Officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence so far, while Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed.
Protests first erupted over a government decision to triple the price of bread, but swiftly escalated into demonstrations against Bashir’s rule.