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Arab campaign for release of detainees in Sudan, El Mahdi charged

January 12 - 2015 KHARTOUM
El Sadig El Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party (L), and Yasir Arman, Secretary-General of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, during a seminar on elections, March 2010 (archive)
El Sadig El Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party (L), and Yasir Arman, Secretary-General of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, during a seminar on elections, March 2010 (archive)

The Arab Coalition for Sudan and the Arab Network for Media Crises have launched their campaign for the release of political detainees in Sudan. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) have filed an official complaint against National Umma Party leader, El Sadig El Mahdi. The Sudanese Communist Party has officially rejected the constitutional amendments passed by the parliament on 5 January, saying that they turned Sudan into a police state.

The social media campaign of the Arab organisations aims to collect 100,000 signatures from “those concerned about Sudan all over the world, to express their rejection of the Sudanese authorities’ repression of civilians in all the states of the country”.

‘Constitutional order’

The prosecutor of the State Security in Khartoum is currently studying the complaint filed by the NISS against El Sadig El Mahdi, last week. The NISS accuses him of undermining the constitutional order, and instigating war against the state, charges that are punishable with the death penalty.

On Sunday, El Sayha daily newspaper reported that that a NISS official filed the complaint against El Mahdi, and that the prosecution most probably will issue an arrest warrant. The NISS official accused the NUP leader of cooperating with Faroug Abu Eisa, head of the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties), and Dr Amin Mekki Madani, chairman of the Sudanese Civil Society Initiative, “in planning to destroy and dismantle of the State of Sudan”. The security service claimed that El Mahdi would do so together with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, an alliance of the main rebel movements), when he co-signed the Sudan Appeal.

In the two-page Sudan Appeal document, the united opposition forces call for the ending of the civil wars in the country, the dismantling of the one-party system, and the rebuilding of Sudan based on democratic principles and equal citizenship. The signatories agreed that if a peaceful regime change cannot be achieved by a broad national dialogue, it should be enforced by a popular uprising.

Abu Eisa, Madani, and Farah El Agar, legal consultant of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, were detained by security officers in their homes in Khartoum on 6 December, a day after they had returned from Addis Ababa, where they had signed the Sudan Appeal on 3 December.

They were held incommunicado until 22 December, after which they were transferred to Kober Prison in Khartoum North. They are charged by the security apparatus with “undermining the constitutional order, and violently opposing the authorities”. 

El Mahdi, was detained by the NISS on 17 May, charged with “disrespecting the prestige of the state, discrediting the regular armed forces, and inciting the international community against Sudan”.

The NUP leader had criticised the formation of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) by the NISS, saying that the militia was unconstitutional, and accused the RSF troops of committing war crimes in Darfur, and operating beyond the scope of the regular armed troops.

He was released on 15 June, following the mediation by prominent Sudanese nationalists, and increased international pressure. El Mahdi has not returned to his home country since he signed the Paris Declaration, a precursor of the Sudan Appeal, with the SRF in the French capital on 8 August 2014.

“The security apparatus has been given powers to detain, torture, and suppress the Sudanese population, with full impunity.”

The Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) has rejected the constitutional amendments approved by the parliament last week, saying that they will make Sudan a police state.

Suleiman Hamed, a prominent leader of the SCP, said at a press conference in Khartoum on Sunday, that the recent amendments contradict the spirit of the 2005 interim constitution, in particular its bill of rights. “The security apparatus has been given powers to detain, torture, and suppress the Sudanese population, with full impunity.”

The amendments turn the NISS into a full part of Sudan's regular forces, instead of being a state institution tasked with the collection and analysing of information and data. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, a large militia commanded by the NISS, will thus be legitimised. 

Hamed predicted that the NISS will continue its campaign against the party’s El Midan newspaper, stressing that they are determined to continue publishing their news according to “the SCP’s ideological and political lines”.

On 1 and 4 January, the print-runs of El Midan were confiscated by security agents. The paper version of the newspaper was allowed to re-appear in April 2014, after it was suspended by the NISS for more than 18 months. The newspaper was able to continue electronically.


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