‘Indefinite suspension is selective and dubious’: editor-in-chief

The editor-in-chief of Elaph doubts the real motives for the indefinite suspension. Meanwhile, the security service seizes a sports newspaper’s complete print-run.

The editor-in-chief of the suspended weekly newspaper Elaph doubts the real motives behind the Press and Publications Council's decision for its indefinite suspension. Meanwhile, a sports newspaper's print-run was seized by the security service on Thursday. Sudan has expressed its pride of having the most press freedom compared to other countries in the region.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga, Dr Khaled El Tijani of Elaph said the council informed him on Wednesday that it received a letter from an undisclosed official body, banning the economic weekly newspaper until further notice.

“We later learned that the decision was taken by the Press and Publications Council itself, and handed to us without prior notification or a rationale,” the editor-in-chief said. “This raises my doubts about the real motives behind the decision.”

The suspension, El Tijani explained, was related to administrative issues. The editor-in-chief pointed out that Elaph is committed to the required administrative procedures. He stressed that Elaph outweighs many newspapers when it comes to meeting the administrative requirements.

“We had requested an ultimatum before, in other issues, but are caught by surprise by this selective and faulty decision.”

For this reason, El Tijani believes that the decision for the indefinite suspension was made selectively and hastily. “Deciding this in such a way is a disrespect for the Constitution and the Bill of rights which guarantees freedom of expression.

“The decision should have been taken by a board consisting of the chairman, the deputy-chairman, the secretary-general and chairmen of the committees. However, individual decisions by an executive body of the Council is illegal and arbitrary,” El Tijani said.

Sports paper seized

On Thursday, the security services in Khartoum confiscated the complete edition of El Johara, a sports newspaper. It was seized right after printing, without any reasons given for the move.

According to press sources, the confiscation came against the backdrop of an article by journalist Muhamed Abdelmajid, in which he criticises the security apparatus’ activities among the sports circle.

The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) granted billions of Sudanese pounds to two sports clubs, 'enhancing its support of many universities, student societies, scientific programmes and journeys, and cultural and sports activities', as Sudan Vision Daily reported on Monday.

Meanwhile, Akhbar El Youm newspaper has dismissed journalist Mohamed Mahmoud El Hilu.

'Sudan's press freedom best of its region'

At the annual Ramadan breakfast for Sudanese Journalists Union (SJU) organised on Thursday, Sudan's first vice-president asserted that press freedoms in the country are better than those in the region and other parts of the world. Bakri Hassan Saleh pledged to enforce the recommendations of the second national media conference, recalling one of the recommendations for encouraging the state to integrate newspapers.

He expressed the government’s readiness to take advanced steps towards allowing more freedoms.