Home | News    Monday 15 August 2011

Sudan mulls return to pre-publication censorship

August 14, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Sudan is considering reinstating pre-publication censorship by which security officers screen newspapers for items that they deem inappropriate so it can be taken out before it goes for printing.

A Sudanese man reads a newspaper as he waits to pay at a kiosk in the capital Khartoum, on July 31, 2011 (AFP)

A number of well placed sources told Sudan tribune that president Omer Hassan al-Bashir who is the NCP chairman was extremely furious during the party’s meeting over a story alleging that he granted lawmakers 15,000 pounds ($7,500) each as a grant on the occasion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Kamal Obeid, the government’s spokesperson, denied the news on Bashir’s grant saying that it is completely false. He urged journalists to avoid publishing wrong information so it does not get translated into harmful acts.

The sources said that the NCP is divided on whether to re-impose pre-publication censorship with many leading figures saying that some newspapers are tarnishing the government’s image and adopting a line sympathetic to the Northern sector of the Sudan people Liberation Movement (SPLM-North).

In 2009 the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir lifted pre-publication censorship but warned journalists not to cross “red lines”.

However, there has been several instances where that directive has been violated and some newspapers were subject to this measure.

Last week Sudanese authorities confiscated two editions of the independent Al-Ahdath newspaper for revealing a planned meeting between Bashir and Blue Nile governor Malik Agar whcih was eventually cancelled.

Al-Tayeb Zain al-Abdeen, who is a professor of Political Science at the University of Khartoum, wrote in the independent al-Sahafa newspaper today that the parliament speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir threatened him for revealing his monthly salary in his column last week.

He said that al-Tahir asserted that the figure is incorrect and as such he demanded a public apology.

"You are lying after you reached 70 years old of age and I will complain and throw you in jail," al-Tahir allegedly told al-Abdeen.

The Sudanese professor challenged al-Tahir to bring the matter before court and expressed surprise why a public official would not want his compensation revealed.