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U.S. concerned over Sudan’s “threatening rhetoric” against civil disobedience

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Girls covering their faces with scarf write slogans on a wall calling for civil disobedience on Sunday 27 November in Wad Madani, Sudan (ST Photo)
December 17, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - U.S. government on Friday has expressed concern over Sudan’s government “threatening rhetoric” and the crackdown on media in response to calls by Sudanese civil society for civil disobedience.

NISS has recently intensified crackdown on newspapers for publishing news reports and articles on the nationwide civil disobedience act which took place between 27 and 29 November. During the last three weeks, it seized copies of various dailies 23 times.

Also, in his address before a crowd in Sudan’s eastern city of Kassala last Monday, Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir threatened to use force against opposition and challenged them to take to the streets if they want to topple his regime.

It is noteworthy that Sudanese activists have launched a wide electronic campaign to mobilize the Sudanese to engage in a second civil disobedience action on December 19th to protest recent austerity measures.

Several opposition forces and armed groups expressed support for the general strike and called upon their affiliates to play an active role to ensure its success.

In a press statement on Friday, U.S. States Department spokesperson Mark Toner urged Sudan’s government to “respond to protesters with restraint, and encourage Sudanese authorities to take all necessary steps to allow citizens to exercise their right to freedom of expression”.

The statement reiterated Washington’s concern “about the detention, apparently without charge, of a number of opposition political leaders and human rights advocates”, urging the government “to stop seizing newspapers and engaging in other forms of censorship of those who report on, or express, political views”.

Following the government decision to raise fuel and electricity price on November 3rd, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) launched a large arrest campaign and detained more than 40 opposition figures from the Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP) , National Umma Party (NUP), Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), Arab Ba’ath Party, National Alliance Forces (NAF) as well as civil society activists and journalists.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry has described the U.S. States Department’s statement as “inaccurate and unobjective” stressing his government’s keenness to maintain security and preserve lives and property of citizens.

In statement released Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gharib Allah Khidir said Sudan’s constitution guarantees freedom of association, expression and publication in accordance with the laws in force.

“There are more than eighty political parties and twenty daily newspapers that reflect the intellectual and political diversity in the country,” he said.

He pointed to the positive atmosphere witnessed by the political arena, saying the implementation of the national dialogue outcome would help achieve sustainable development and the peaceful transfer of power.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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