Sudan president replaces intelligence chief

KHARTOUM, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has replaced his security and intelligence chief Salah Gosh, who has been accused by a Western rights group of having a role in abuses in the western region of Darfur.

The official SUNA news agency, which reported the move late on Thursday, did not give a reason for moving Gosh, viewed as an influential figure in Sudanese politics for many years. SUNA said Gosh would move to be an adviser to the president.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has accused Sudan's security body of abuse and has called for the International Criminal Court to investigate Gosh's role in the Sudanese government's attempts to quash rebels in the Darfur region.

Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over crimes in Darfur, where rebels took up arms against the government in 2003 saying the region was being neglected.

Bashir "has issued a republican decree appointing General Salah (Gosh) as a presidential adviser", the report said, adding Mohammed Atta al-Moula, now the deputy and director for national security and intelligence, would replace him.

Moula, an engineer by training, joined national security in 1992 and was made deputy in 2002, Sudan's independent daily Al Sudani newspaper said.

In a rare interview with Reuters in 2004, Gosh said the government had armed tribes against Darfur's rebels. He said human rights violations had taken place but promised to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Estimates of the death count in Darfur since fighting started range from 10,000, according to Khartoum, to 300,000, according to the United Nations.

Gosh joined national security 1990 and in 2002 he was given the top job, Al Sudani reported.

The government intelligence body merged with security in 2004 and is one of the most powerful institutions in government. (Reporting by Skye Wheeler)