Sudan bans two newspapers over protest
KHARTOUM (AFP) — Sudanese security banned two newspapers from publishing on Saturday after they protested against draconian censorship measures and arrests of journalists.
National security agents summoned staff from Ajras Al-Hurriya and Ray Al-Shab as the dailies were due to resume publication after a self-imposed three-day strike, newspaper executives said.
"They told us 'you didn't inform us about your strike and... we're taking the measure of stopping you for one day'," said Murtada el-Ghali, the editor in chief of Ajras Al-Hurriya. He said the same rule applies to Ray Al-Shab.
Security agents had initially informed the newspapers they would impose a three-day ban, but the punishment was reduced.
The editors have accused the dominant National Congress Party of trying to silence opposition in the run-up to scheduled elections in 2009 and vowed to press on with a long-term campaign to fight for a free press.
"This is done by the National Congress as a political party. They want to ban the people from freedom and other voices in Sudan than their own," Nagi Dahab, general director of Ray Al-Shab, told reporters.
Sudanese journalists went on hunger strike last Tuesday, downing tools for three days insisting they would no longer accept government restrictions.
Sudan's interim constitution, which is supposed to guide the country through a six-year phased implementation of a 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended two decades of civil war, upholds freedom of the press and expression.
But laws guaranteeing press freedom have not been passed and security officials inspect the editions of every newspaper nightly.
Editors who resist censorship risk their publications being banned outright or confiscated from distribution offices.
Sudan's robust media includes around 30 independent daily newspapers, representing a range of political views, according to Reporters Without Borders.