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Sudan security agents seize Communist newspaper: Editor

AFP , Thursday 3 Apr 2014
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Sudanese state security agents have seized copies of the Communist party newspaper one month after it was allowed to resume publishing following a two-year shutdown, the editor said on Thursday.

The seizure of Al-Midan comes despite government claims that freedoms are widening in the country.

"It was prevented from circulating three times this week, on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday," Madiha Abdullah, chief editor of the thrice-weekly publication, told AFP.

"They took copies from the printer without giving any reasons."

Sudan's press council informed Al-Midan in early March that it could publish again after about two years.

Staff had said that security agents prevented Al-Midan's distribution 13 times in one month, effectively halting its presses in 2012, although it continued publishing on the Internet.

In January, President Omar al-Bashir appealed for a broad national political dialogue in his country ravaged by war, poverty and political turmoil.

As part of what he called a political and economic renaissance, Bashir said: "The freedom of people has to be respected."

Since then journalists have complained that various newspapers were being seized at the presses, even as others including Al-Midan were authorised to resume publishing after bans.

Critics say Bashir's political dialogue is just a way for the elite to hang on to power without properly addressing the country's problems.

"Freedom is one of the main issues under discussion" in the dialogue with political parties, Bashir's top assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, told AFP in an interview last week.

"What we need on freedoms is to agree on what is white, what is black and what is grey," and on the mechanisms which should be used to resolve disagreements, he said.

Political parties are free to hold rallies outside their headquarters, and "all banned newspapers were now released," Ghandour said.

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