Sudan censors 2 newspapers

2010-05-20 08:55

Khartoum - Sudanese security officers stormed two newspapers on Wednesday tearing up articles ready for printing, employees said, despite a 2009 presidential decree promising to lift press censorship.

Authorities went to the offices of the Ajras al-Hurriya, which is linked to the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the independent daily Al-Sahafa, and confiscated articles.

"At 20:00, three security officers came to the newspaper and tore up some material and opinion columns that were ready to go to print," the deputy editor of Ajras al-Hurriya, Fayez al-Saleek, said.

"We have therefore decided not to publish (Thursday's) issue in protest at authorities' pre-censorship," he said.

Security officers also went to the offices of the Al-Sahafa daily and demanded to see editorial material and opinion columns, an employee said.

The move comes just days after authorities shut down the Rai al-Shaab newspaper of Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, and detained four employees.

Turabi, a fierce critic of President Omar al-Bashir, was arrested at his home on Sunday.

In September, Bashir announced the lifting of press censorship, putting an end to "pre-censorship", a system where newspapers are screened by censors every night to purge them of sensitive articles before they hit the stands.

Sudan boasts around 30 titles in both English and Arabic published daily to represent all persuasions - pro-government, Islamist or communist - and showcase the country's multi-faceted political make-up.

Bashir was returned to power last month after the country's first multi-party elections in more than two decades, promising democratic transformation in Africa's largest country.