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story.lead_photo.caption Protesters from the Sudanese medical profession syndicate march toward a sit-in Wednesday in the Armed Forces Square in Khartoum, Sudan.

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- Sudan's military rulers late Tuesday transferred ousted President Omar al-Bashir to a prison in the country's capital, hours before hundreds of people marched to a sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum to call for a quick handover of power to civilian leadership.

The significance of the transfer of al-Bashir, who was ousted last week by the military after four months of street protests against his 30-year rule, was not immediately clear.

The military said it would not extradite him to the International Criminal Court to face charges of war crimes and genocide in the region of Darfur but would instead put him on trial at home. However, it did not rule out that a subsequent civilian government could someday hand al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court.

While moving al-Bashir to a prison may reflect the military giving in to one of the protesters' demands, it could also be an attempt to get him away from the proximity of the street protests underway outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, where he had been held since last week.

A former Sudanese minister said al-Bashir had remained "under house arrest" at the presidential residence inside the army headquarters compound, a location the military described earlier as a "safe place."

He was moved to Koper Prison late Tuesday, according to the ex-minister. A military official confirmed the move. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Koper is the place where political prisoners were held under al-Bashir.

Amnesty International urged Sudan's military to ensure that he and other detainees "are protected from torture and other ill-treatment" in the wake of al-Bashir's ouster.

On Wednesday, hundreds of people joined a march by doctors and health workers toward the sit-in outside the army headquarters, which has become the epicenter of Sudan's uprising.

Many wore white coats, waved Sudanese flags and chanted: "Freedom, peace, justice and the revolution is the people's choice."

Aya Abdel Aziz, a 22-year-old medical student, said she decided to join the march, which started from the University of Khartoum, to press for women's rights as well as the handover of power to the people.

"Our demand is that women have representation in the transitional civilian council," she said.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which is behind the protests, called on the military council to hand over power to a transitional civilian government that would rule for four years. The group fears that the army, dominated by al-Bashir appointees, will cling to power or select one of its own to succeed him.

Meanwhile, rebels fighting government forces declared a unilateral, three-month cease-fire Wednesday in areas under their control in the country's southern Blue Nile state.

Abdelal-Aziz Adam al-Hilu, head of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in the south, said the cease-fire was a "gesture of goodwill" aimed at giving the military a "chance for a peaceful and quick transfer of power to civilians."

Fighting in the Blue Nile state has been raging for years between al-Bashir's government forces and the rebels, who were left on the northern side of the border after South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war.

At the United Nations, the joint U.N.-African Union envoy in Darfur, Jeremiah Mamabolo, told the Security Council that al-Bashir's ouster has sparked violence in the vast western region by people displaced during its long conflict and other protesters.

The violence included arson attacks on the premises of al-Bashir's security service and his party's offices, as well as houses of community leaders "perceived to have collaborated with the previous regime," Mamabolo said Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, Uganda's deputy foreign minister, Henry Okello Oryem, said Uganda "can consider" giving al-Bashir asylum if he wants it.

Oryem, who did not address the fact that al-Bashir is in custody, said the ousted Sudanese president had played a crucial role in efforts to achieve peace in neighboring South Sudan.

Al-Bashir is one of the guarantors of the fragile peace deal between South Sudan's warring factions. For years, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, had a difficult relationship with al-Bashir, who was accused of supporting rebels opposed to Uganda's government.

After South Sudan's independence, which Museveni supported, the two appeared to reconcile, and Museveni has criticized the International Criminal Court for indicting al-Bashir.

Information for this article was contributed by Rodney Muhumuza and Edith M. Lederer of The Associated Press.

A Section on 04/18/2019

Print Headline: Ousted Sudan leader moved to prison


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