KHARTOUM Sudan's Islamist opposition leader, Hassan al-Turabi, a prominent Sunni scholar, denounced on Thursday the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi as a "coup against legitimacy", while the Khartoum government gave a cautious response.
Sudan's Islamist government had welcomed last year's election of Mursi, who was ousted along with his Muslim Brotherhood by the army after millions of Egyptians demanded he go.
The neighbors are close trading partners but ties were long rocky under former President Hosni Mubarak after he accused Sudanese Islamists of having helped gunmen in an assassination attempt against him in Ethiopia in 1995.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Mursi met several times to discuss boosting trade ties - Bashir had been expected for a visit in Cairo only this week, diplomats said.
Turabi, who used to be the spiritual father of Bashir's 1989 Islamist coup until both later fell out, said Mursi had become a victim of a coalition of the army, Christians and "liberals who believe in democracy for themselves but not for others."
"This is a coup against the constitution, against the legitimacy," Turabi told reporters. "He (Mursi) was the first democratically elected leader. He issued a constitution which the people wanted."
Sudan's government, however, gave a cautious response to Mursi's ousting, describing it as "domestic affair" for Egypt.
"Sudan calls on all parties in Egypt to make as a priority to preserve Egypt's stability and security, peace and unity of its people," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Sudan wanted "brotherly ties" with Sudan, it said, without naming the new interim President Adli Mansour.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Philip Barbara)