Al Bashir’s Emergency Orders restrict freedoms and trade

Yesterday, the Sudanese government led by President Omar Al Bashir issued four emergency decrees under the State of Emergency that further restrict public freedoms, in addition to handling of foreign currency, gold, and selling of fuel.

Yesterday, the Sudanese government led by President Omar Al Bashir issued four emergency decrees under the State of Emergency that further restrict public freedoms, in addition to handling of foreign currency, gold, and selling of fuel.

On Friday, President Omar Al Bashir declared the State of Emergency. He dissolved the national Council of Ministers, relieved the state governors, and appointed high-ranking military and police officers in their place.

On Monday Al Bashir presented new restrictive decrees (listed below). One of them grants more powers to security forces while another bans gatherings, assembly of people, marches and strikes – deeming them disruptive. Another decree regulates all dealing in foreign exchange, gold exports, and fuel outside official channels.

In addition to any penalty provided in any relevant laws, anyone who violates the provisions of the emergency orders shall be punished with imprisonment, confiscation of the quantities that violate this order, confiscation of the means of transport, and suspension or withdrawal of the license or power of attorney.

The Sudan Call, an alliance of opposition groups and civil society organisations, released a statement after the announcement that Al Bashir "is determined to crush the ongoing nationwide peaceful protests in Sudan". He is "deploying large scale security forces, including the army, with heavy mounted vehicles, to target peaceful protestors".

In the statement Sudan Call Secretary-General Yasir Arman said that Sudanese people intend to stand up for their human rights in the face of the regime, and will do so during large-scale demonstrations on Thursday February 28.

The four orders, to be enforced as of the date of signing, are published by the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) and read as follows:

Emergency Order 1 is on the delegation of powers and offering of immunities. This order delegates to the regular forces the following authorities:

1. Entry into or inspection of buildings or search of persons;

2. To impose control on any property or installations;

3. The seizure of funds, shops, goods and objects suspected of being illegal, pending investigation or prosecution;

4. Prohibition or regulation of the movement or activity of persons or means of transport and communication in any area or time;

5. Arrest of persons suspected of involvement in an emergency-related crime;

6. Any other powers deemed necessary by the President of the Republic.

Emergency Order 2 states the following: It prohibits the unlicensed gathering, assembling and processions. It prohibits blocking public roads and obstructing the movement of citizens and means of transport. It prohibits the diminishing of the prestige of the State and any symbols of its sovereignty or any of its organs or agents by any means or act. It prohibits resistance of the competent authorities or refusing to obey their orders or directives.

It prohibits strikes, stopping of work and suspension of services or disabling of public facilities. It prohibits assaults on public and private property, vandalism, intimidation of citizens and breaches of public safety and security. It prohibits roaming during the curfew period that is fixed by the competent authority.

It prohibits preparation, publishing or circulating news that harms the state or citizens or calls for undermining the existing constitutional order or spreading hatred, racism or discrimination by any means of visual, audio-visual, readable or any other means of social communication. It prohibits the preparation or publishing of information, photographs, documents or personal documents of any person who occupies a public office or his family.

Any person who violates the provisions of this Order faces imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, and a fine.

Emergency Order 3 regulates the handling of foreign exchange and determining controls for the exit of foreign currency and gold through ports and crossings. The following is prohibited:

1. Dealing in foreign exchange for sale or purchase outside the official channels;

2. Carrying more than $3,000 or the equivalent of other foreign currencies as a person traveling through any air or sea port or any land crossing;

3. Carrying or possessing more than 150 grams of manufactured gold as a traveller outside Sudan through any air, sea, or land port;

4. Carrying, possessing or storing any quantity of raw gold, whatever it is from, by those who are not licensed to manufacture or export;

5. Anyone who holds any gold in any form must comply with the regulations issued by the competent authorities, which determine the conditions for the transfer of gold from one region to another;

The order stipulates that anyone who commits, participates, aids, facilitates or permits the committing of any of the acts above, shall be punished by at least imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years and a fine, and confiscation of the currencies.

Emergency Order 4 prohibits the distribution, storage, sale and transport of fuel and subsidised goods outside the official channels. Persons who commit this crime shall be prohibited from storing or transporting any petroleum products, except under the approval of the competent authorities. Any person engaged in the transport of these products shall be prohibited from discharging any shipment or part of it in any location contrary to what is specified in the shipping and allocation form issued by the General Petroleum Corporation.

Also oil service stations are prohibited from selling any hydrocarbons (gasoline, benzene, gas-ferns). Furthermore, this order prohibits the dealing with subsidised wheat and flour other than in accordance with the regulations specified by the competent authority.

Causes of uprising

Public anger in Sudan has been building up over price rises and other economic hardships, including expensive bread, fuel and medicines, as well as limits on cash withdrawals over a liquidity crisis.

Over the past few months, as the value of the Sudanese Pound has dropped steadily against the US Dollar. In December 2018, the Central Bank of Sudan issued a decision to set the limit of cash withdrawals by bank card at ATMs. The recent printing of new currency by the Central Bank of Sudan has been necessitated by hyperinflation, coupled with a chronic shortage of hard cash. Banks have limited cash withdrawals so traders and the public prefer to keep their cash at home, rather than deposit it into banks.

The rising bread and fuel prices sparked protests in Atbara in North-Eastern Sudan. In less than a week, the anti-government protests spread across the entire country and were answered with brutal violence by the Sudanese security forces. Multiple sources have confirmed that tear gas and live ammunition is being used against demonstrators. Human Rights Watch reported that Sudanese activists estimate at least 50 people have been killed since the start of the protests.