May 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The head of the state security prosecution office issued a decision on MOnday banning the press from reporting on the case of the jailed leader of the National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadiq al-Mahdi.
- Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party, flanked by supporters as he leaves the state prosecutor’s office in Khartoumon 15 May 2014 (ST)
Sudan’s official news agency (SUNA) said that this order comes in line with the principle of ensuring that justice in cases under investigation is not obstructed or influenced by media reporting under Article 26(1)(c)(e) of the 2009 Press and Publications law.
Al-Mahdi was arrested on 17 May, days after he was called for questioning by state prosecutors over statements he made accusing the Sudan’s paramilitary unit known as the Rapid Support Force (RSF) of committing abuses against civilians in Darfur and Kordofan regions.
The criminal complaint against the former prime minister was submitted by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).
The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the command of NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.
Sudanese officials say the RSF is part of the NISS but operationally follow the army.
The Sudanese presidency refused a petition by opposition parties taking part in the national dialogue process to intervene and have al-Mahdi released from detention.
However, it did not rule out the possibility of stepping in but only after the entire judicial process is concluded.
The NUP announced last week that it has suspended its participation in the dialogue process to protest its leader’s arrest.
On Monday, the deputy speaker of the national assembly Samia Ahmed Mohammed called on the NISS and al-Mahdi to make concessions for the sake of Sudan.
She stressed that the NISS respected the dialogue process and resorted to legal venues instead of its usual techniques of directly arresting individuals insulting it.
Mohammed dismissed opposition’s allegations that al-Mahdi’s arrest dealt a blow to the national dialogue.
“He is delusional, he is delusional whoever says this… because the dialogue is a will of the nation and an integrated society and generations which is not affected by what is happening here or there,” the lawmaker said.
She added that the reform program will continue and that even al-Mahdi did not give up on it.
Mohammed said that security authorities respected dialogue and dealt correctly with accusations of al-Mahdi but that the intermingling of security and criminal procedures with the political dimension of al-Mahdi as well as media talk created some confusion.
She expressed the hope that the issue is addressed in a limited frame and called on al-Mahdi to respect the security institutions and not to interfere in their responsibilities after his return to political activity.