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Sudanese politicians released after a long day of tension

December 8 - 2009 KHARTOUM

 Most of the arrested leaders of the SPLM and opposition parties have been released by the authorities of Sudan after a day of rapidly growing tension in the streets of Khartoum and other places in the country. Most of them were arrested during a demonstration in front of the National Assembly (parliament). Some others were locked in while heading for a joint meeting. This was reported by Radio Dabanga. One of the prominent members of the SPLM in the North, Yassir Arman, was already released on Monday afternoon. After being severely beaten he had to attend a doctor in Khartoum hospital. They had wanted to force him to hand over his mobile phone. Yassir Arman refused. He was detained together with the secretary general of the SPLM, Pagan Amum. After regaining freedom Pagan Amum announced that the SPLM will continue the struggle until the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of President Omar al Bashir will fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between SPLM and NCP.

Other prominent politicians were later on released including the Federal Minister of Health, Tabita Boutros Sokaya, and the State Minister for Interior Affairs, Juma Abbas. They were sent off from jail together with members of the opposition Umma Party and the Communist Party. Radio Dabanga got confirmation that detainees were released before the Monday night started.

SPLM-leader and First Vice President of Sudan Salva Kiir described the arrests of demonstrators in Khartoum as ’shocking and illegal’. He further said that the arrests were ‘provocative, unjustified and contrary to the transitional National Constitution’. He said that the constitution allows peaceful demonstration and the freedom of expression and opinion. Kiir said he had spoken with President Bashir and agreed to pacify the situation. President Omar al Bashir had assured him that all detainees would be freed immediately.

NCP defends arrests

The State Minister for Information, Kamal Obeid (NCP), continued to defend the wave of arrests in an appearance on Al Jazeera TV. He explained that his government legally arrested his SPLM colleagues from the ministries of Health and Interior Affairs. He defended the action as being compatible with the law.

Salva Kiir appealed to leaders of the National Congress Party to extend the session of the National Assembly in order approve laws for democratic transformation.

Protests outside capital

Also outside the capital of Khartoum citizens organized spontaneous demonstrations in support of the arrested politicians in Wad Medani, El Obeid, Juba, Malakal, Wau, Torit, and Rumbek. Reports described an attack by students on the office of the NCP. At most locations the demonstrations ended relatively peacefully with no further acts of vandalism reported.

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