June 16, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) on Monday stormed the headquarters of the Congress party in the city of al-Nuhood in West Kordofan state for the second time in less than a week, and took dozens of its members into custody.
The Secretary-General of the party, Abdul-Gayoom Awad al-Sayed said that security forces raided their headquarters and broke locks on the rooms and tampered with documents and other items.
Al-Sayed said that the party will hold a press conference on Tuesday in Khartoum to announce its next moves.
NISS arrested the party’s leader Ibrahim Sheikh al-on June 8th after speaking at a seminar in which he criticized the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and accused them of committing abuses in conflict zones. He faces charges that could hand him the death penalty if convicted.
Last Thursday, al-Nuhood turned into a military barrack with police using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators who gathered in front of the court to attend the first session of al- Sheikh’s trial.
It was not possible to get immediate comment from Sudanese authorities about the party’s claims.
The Congress party is one of the major parties that rejected president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s call for dialogue earlier this year.
Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalizing national identity.
He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last April with the participation of 83 political parties.
The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.
It is believed widely that reform efforts by Bashir is prompted by violent protests that erupted last September against the austerity plan rolled out by the government which left hundreds dead.
The Reform Now Party (RNP) announced its intention to suspend its participation in the ongoing national dialogue process in response to what it described as a series of setbacks to political freedoms in the country.
It cited the arrest of the National Umma Party (NUP) chief al-Sadiq al-Mahdi last month as a reason for its decision along with government crackdown on media and political freedoms.
NUP has already announced it is boycotting the dialogue after its leader’s arrest. However he was released yesterday after prosecutors decided to stop legal proceedings