UN chief urges Sudan to respect freedom of the press

AFP , Saturday 4 Dec 2021

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres urged authorities in Sudan to respect freedom of expression and the press, calling the country hostile to journalists in a report submitted Friday to the Security Council.

Sudanese protesters gather in the busy Jabra district of southern Khartoum on November 25, 2021. AFP

Hundreds of political activists, journalists, protesters and bystanders watching anti-power grab rallies were arrested following the country's latest upheaval on October 25.

On that date military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan seized power and detained Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, but after international condemnation and the mass protests he reinstated the premier in a November 21 deal.

"Amidst an increasingly hostile environment for journalists, I urge the authorities to respect freedom of speech and of the press," Guterres said in the quarterly document, which has not yet been made public but was obtained by AFP.

"I reiterate my call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested and detained arbitrarily, and to cease arrests of political opposition leaders and activists," he added.

Sudan has a long history of military coups, enjoying only rare interludes of democratic rule since independence in 1956.

"The future of the Sudanese transition remains uncertain," Guterres said.

He additionally condemned "the use of live ammunition by security and military forces against peaceful protestors resulting in deaths and injuries," calling it "unacceptable."

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