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Sudanese security seizes newspaper over criticism of move to lift subsidies

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December 14, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) seized copies of al-Tayar newspaper in the early hours of Monday from the printing house without giving reasons.

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People stand outside Al-Tayyar headquarters after the attack on 19 July 2014

Editors at the newspaper told Sudan Tribune that the move was likely triggered by a series of Op-eds by the editor in chief Osman Mirghani in which he fiercely criticized the Minister of Finance’s announcement of a new round of subsidy cuts on fuel, electricity and wheat.

The newspapers had also quoted the minister as describing Sudanese as "consuming and non-productive nation," which drew strong public resentment and anger.

Mirghani called on the minister of finance to resign and drew an analogy of a tradition in the past of teachers looking under student’s garments in the morning to check the level of cleanliness.

He said the minister did the same to Sudanese people only to find that they had sold their underwear.

The potential move of lifting subsidies drew wide discontent among the public and opposition parties while leaders of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) distanced themselves from it saying it will affect the poor and vulnerable segments of society.

Later, the state minister of finance Abdul Rahman Dirar was quoted as saying that the 2016 budget will retain the existing wheat, fuel and electricity subsidies.

Al-Meghar al-Siyasi newspaper reported on its front page that senior governmental bodies want an audio recording of the finance minister’s remarks before the parliament in what appears to be a prelude to punitive measures against newspapers.

The NISS routinely confiscates newspapers either to prevent circulation of certain stories or to punish them retroactively on previous issues.

In February, NISS seized entire print runs of 14 newspapers in one day without stating the reasons for its decision.

According to al-Tayar journalists, this is the eighth time an issue was seized by NISS this year.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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