On Friday, officers of Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confiscated all copies of El Sayha and El Watan daily newspapers from the printing press. This brings the number of print-runs seized this week to 16. Participants of the National Dialogue condemned the increased curbing of the press in a statement on Friday.
Bakri El Madani, Editor-in-chief of El Watan told Radio Dabanga that on Friday morning, for the third day in a row, security agents confiscated the daily’s print-run without providing a reason.
According to El Madani, the confiscations last week are “a retro-active punishment” for the publication of comments on the far-reaching austerity measures taken earlier in November after which the transportation tariffs and prices of basic commodities began to soar at an unprecedented level.
The editor-in-chief reported huge financial losses incurred by the confiscations. He demanded the repeal of the emergency laws, and from the NISS, “to officially file a complaint against the newspaper in case they are affected by any publication”.
National Dialogue Support Group
He further pointed to the statement issued by the National Dialogue Support Group (NDSG) on Friday in which they condemn the closure of the privately-owned Omdurman Broadcasting Channel on Sunday and the confiscations of the print-runs over the week.
“The repeated confiscation of newspapers is also causing frustration among the participants of Sudan’s National Dialogue. Their recommendations concerning the restoration of public freedoms seem to have been set aside,” he said. “Though the government pledged to implement the recommendations incorporated in the National [Policy] Document in October.”
“The National Dialogue recommendations concerning the restoration of public freedoms seem to have been set aside.”
In its statement, the NDSG strongly criticises the increased gagging of the press and “the general repression” in the country. They point to “Some groups deeply settled in the state and its institutions that [..] are stripping others of their rights for their own gains. They intend to re-impose an old reality that was surpassed by the National Dialogue outcomes”.
The statement further advises the Sudanese people to be patient as “the victory is nearing”.
In early 2014, President Omar Al Bashir proposed a national dialogue to discuss all the pressing issues in the country. He called on all the opposition parties and armed movements to join the platform as well. The initiative however faced serious setbacks because of the government’s refusal to create a suitable atmosphere by restoring civil liberties in the country. Several opposition forces subsequently withdrew from the dialogue.
This year the seven government parties and seven opposition parties participating in the National Dialogue formed committees to discuss solutions for the political, economic, and social crises in the country. On 9 October, the National Dialogue members passed the National Document containing the committees’ recommendations.
During the official conclusion of the Dialogue the next day, Al Bashir stated that “The National Document reflects the will of the people of Sudan”, and “will serve as a basis for the ruling of the country”.
The Popular Congress Party (PCP), founded by the late Dr Hasan El Turabi, and the main opposition participant of the National Dialogue, however, expressed doubts about the guarantees for the implementation of the Dialogue’s outcomes. PCP Political Bureau member Abubaker Abdelrazeg told Radio Dabanga on 13 October that his party will not take part in the transitional government proposed in the National Document.
“There are no guarantees for the implementation of our recommendations, except the president's commitment,” he said.