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Sudan’s NISS backtracks on moves to impose conditions on banned opposition newspaper

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February 1, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s National Council for Press and Publications (NCPP) announced that it received formal notification from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) that they had agreed to lift all restrictions on the Popular Congress Party (PCP) newspaper known as Ra’y al-Sha’b.

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A man protests against the storming by security forces of two newspaper offices in Khartoum in May 2010 (AFP)

The PCP revealed this week that the NISS had first informed the opposition party that it had lifted the ban imposed on Ra’y al-Sha’b more than two years ago.

However, the PCP said that the security apparatus had attached 19 conditions for the daily to resume publication, including refraining from criticszing officials or dealing with corruption-related issues, all of which were swiftly rejected by the editorial board and the party.

NCPP secretary-general al-Obeid Marwih said in press statements that the newspaper can now resume publication once they comply with the NCPP’s usual procedural and administrative regulations.

NCPP chairman Ali Shummo thanked the NISS for its decision, while also expressing hope that restrictions imposed on other dailies would also be lifted.

The paper was targeted during a security crackdown and was suspended several times, with copies also seized before distribution.

The PCP split from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) following 1999’s bitter power struggle between president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and the Islamist leader, Hassan Al-Turabi, who was ousted from his post as parliamenaryt speaker.

Al-Turabi went on to establish the PCP and has since been a vociferous critic of the very regime whose army-backed seizure of power in 1989 he orchestrated.

The NISS routinely seizes newspapers after publication and shuts down others while imposing pre-publication censorship to prevent dailies from reporting on sensitive political, military and security issues.

Dozens of columnists have also been banned from writing in newspapers under NISS orders.

The NISS has continued to intensify its crackdown on press in the country, introducing tough new measures to prevent media outlets from covering recent anti-government protests, which erupted last September following the lifting of subsidies on fuel.

(ST)

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