Some three thousand Sudanese including government officials and politicians on Sunday turned up for the funeral of the country’s late opposition leader, Hassan al-Turabi amid high security.
Turabi, a prominent Sudanese politician is considered by many as the spiritual leader of the country’s Islamists.
The 84-year-old died Saturday evening of a suspected heart attack and was buried at the Bourri cemetery in the east of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Sunday morning.
Sundan's Turabi Buried Outside Khartoum: Prominent Sudanese politician Hassan al-Turabi was buried Sunday in a… https://t.co/ELaNNT8SrC— VOA Africa (@VOAAfrica) March 6, 2016
Many female members of Turabi’s Popular Congress Party joined the milling crowd at the funeral for their late leader – a rare sight in Sudan. Other supporters of the charismatic leader also carried banners bearing his portraits.
President Omar al-Bashir was not present at the funeral as he is reported to have travelled to Jakarta where he will be attending a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Monday.
He is however reported to have visited the family of Hassan al-Turabi at his residence in Khartoum on Saturday night to offer his condolence to the bereaved family.
State radio and television programs on Sunday devoted their programming to celebrating the life of man described as an “intellectual and Islamic scholar”.
A powerful figure in the 1990s, Turabi became an influential opposition leader later in life, having broken ranks with President Omar al-Bashir under whose administration he had served as a minister. He served as foreign minister just after a 1989 military coup that brought Bashir to power. He was elected speaker of parliament in 1996.
In 1999, following differences between him and Bashir, Turabi formed the Popular Congress Party (PCP), to challenge Bashir’s rule, a move that landed him in jail several times.
In recent years he played a role in Bashir’s attempts to bring feuding parties together through a national dialogue process called for in 2014 but which has seen little progress.
Turabi was arrested in January 2009 after supporting an indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Sudanese president al Bashir for crimes wars, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Bashir has remained in power for more than a quarter of a century, weathering rebellions, economic crisis and an indictment by the International Criminal Court on suspicion of having orchestrated war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region.