Sudan's parliament cuts state of emergency to six months

Reuters , Monday 11 Mar 2019

Sudan's parliament voted on Monday to shorten from one year to six months a state of emergency declared by President Omar al-Bashir last month in response to widespread protests.

Parliament can, however, renew the measure.

Bashir declared the nationwide state of emergency, the first since 1999, on Feb. 22 to try to quell demonstrations that have posed the most serious challenge to his three-decade rule.

Parliament's deputy speaker Ahmed Attijani said some lawmakers objected to the state of emergency because of its implications for freedoms, particularly given Sudan is due to hold a presidential election next year.

The state of emergency gives security services expanded powers to search buildings, restrict movement of people and public transport, arrest suspects and seize assets or property during investigations.

In the days after its imposition, Bashir announced a raft of other measures, including setting up emergency courts and prosecutors across the country. Activists say more than 800 people have been tried in the courts.

"We reject the (state of) emergency completely and these measures will not stop the popular mobilisation," said Omar al-Degair, head of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party.

Near-daily demonstrations set off by a worsening economic crisis have shaken Sudan since Dec. 19.

Protesters have called for Bashir to go, blaming him for the country's problems. He has pointed a finger at "infiltrators" and foreign "agents". 

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