KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Late last year, as President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s hold on power weakened, one of Sudan’s most feared militia leaders lashed out against the government of his long-time ally and benefactor.
In a speech to cheering troops, militia chief Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo sympathised with the thousands of protesters who had poured onto the streets in December demanding food, fuel and an end to corruption. He hit out at officials “who take what isn’t theirs.” “There are some people who are doing great harm, and they are the officials, not the poor,” he raged.
After years of loyally supporting Bashir, Hemedti took part in the military coup that toppled the leader in April and is now a senior figure in the transitional government that is preparing the ground for elections in three years’ time. Under the constitution, members of the transitional government aren’t allowed to engage in private business activity.
Now a Reuters investigation has found that even as Hemedti was accusing Bashir’s people of enriching themselves at the public’s expense, a company that Hemedti’s family owns was flying gold bars worth millions of dollars to Dubai.
Current and former government officials and gold industry sources said that in 2018 as Sudan’s economy was imploding, Bashir gave Hemedti free rein to sell Sudan’s most valuable natural resource through this family firm, Algunade.