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Sudan’s NCP says its "cyber-Jihadists" ready to "crush" online oppositionists

March 22, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in north Sudan has stepped up rhetoric against internet-enabled dissent, warning youth groups calling for regime change online that the party’s “cyber-Jihadists” are ready to “crush” them.

In a meeting with members of the NCP’s “cyber-battalion” in Khartoum on Tuesday, the party’s vice-president in Khartoum State Mandur Al-Mahdi warned opposition and youth groups engaged in organizing anti-government campaigns through social networking-websites such as Facebook and Twitter against the consequences of their action, saying that his party would “crush” whoever stands in its way.

The ruling NCP, which seized power in Sudan in a military coup in 1989, has recently been facing a surge of dissent inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and neighboring Egypt as well as worsening economic conditions in the country following the secession of the oil-producing region of South Sudan in a referendum earlier this year.

The ruling party reacted violently to few attempts by youth and opposition groups to stage street protests in the recent past, using its security apparatus to detain and intimidate a large number of activists.

This week the NCP accused students loyal to rebel groups from Sudan’s war-battered region of Darfur as well as certain political figures of being behind small anti-government protests on Monday – the second since youth groups staged anti-government protests on 30 January.

Al-Mahdi accused those whom he termed as “residues of communism” and members of his party’s splinter group the Popular Congress Party of wooing support from “others” against their fellow countrymen.

He added that their attempts to topple the government via the internet would be crushed by the NCP’s “cyber-Jihadists” who are currently leading “online defense operations.”

In the run-up to anti-government protests in 30 January, a number of NCP supporters posted messages on Facebook-based pages of anti-government groups warning people against responding to calls for protests and accusing anti-government activists of executing “foreign agendas.”

Recent attempts to stage anti-government protests in north Sudan in a manner similar to the ones that toppled deeply-entrenched governments in neighboring countries have failed to take on a mass appeal and revealed a lack of organization among youth groups and mainstream opposition parties, some of which are currently engaged in power-sharing talks with the NCP.

(ST)