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US expresses concern over Mahdi’s detention

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May 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The US embassy in Khartoum has expressed “deep concern” over the detention of Sudanese opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi who was arrested last week after criticising the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia.

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Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the Sudan’s National Umma Party (NUP), the country’s largest opposition party (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

“We urge the Government of Sudan to respect the fundamental human right to freedom of expression of all Sudanese citizens as enshrined in Article 39 of Sudan’s 2005 Interim Constitution,” said the embassy on Thursday.

The embassy further called on the government to fulfil its pledge to allow freedom of expression and create a conducive environment in the country ahead of a national dialogue process initiated by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir last January.

“We urge the Government of Sudan to honour its public pledges as the government initiates an inclusive national dialogue,” the embassy said.

Mahdi’s detention is seen as set back in the national dialogue process and an attempt to ban the recent freedom of expression granted to the political forces.

State foreign minister, Obeid Allah Mohamed Obeid Allah, said on Wednesday that the death sentence handed down to a Christian woman for apostasy and the arrest of al-Mahdi had negatively impacted Sudanese diplomacy.

Al-Obeid further said they engaged a series of contacts with the regional and international organisations to explain the position of the government over these issues.

The head of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said last Tuesday she was alarmed by the recent developments in Sudan, adding they have the potential to negatively impact the national dialogue.

"The chairperson of the Commission underscores the importance of the national dialogue process for the future of Sudan, and appeals to all the parties concerned to desist from any actions that could undermine its smooth conduct," said Zuma.

(ST)

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