Sudan dailies halt publication over censorship

Govt bars al-Maidan, Ajras al-Hurriya from distribution


Two independent Sudanese newspapers said Saturday they are halting publication in protest at government censorship, after they were both barred from distribution.

Communist party newspaper al-Maidan and Ajras al-Hurriya, which is considered close to southern ruling party, suspended publication on Saturday "as a complaint against the actions of the security authorities," the head of al-Maidan's board of directors, Ali Kinein, told reporters, according to AFP.

Security officials in Khartoum have blocked the distribution of Ajras al-Hurriya since Wednesday, while the communist paper has been barred from circulation three times this month, including on Thursday, Kinein added.

"We do not know why the security forces have done this," said Ajras al-Hurriya's deputy editor Fayez al-Sillik.

Sudan's press council could not immediately be contacted for comment on the reported censorship.

Both dailies have complained of repressive action by the Sudanese security forces since late January, when thousands took to the streets of Khartoum for anti-regime protests.

Sudan's media experienced a sharp crackdown after the protests, with Ajras al-Hurriya prevented from publishing the following day, and security officers arresting at least 12 journalists working for al-Maidan several days later.

Following January's landmark referendum on independence, south Sudan is set to gain international recognition in July, when Sudan's interim constitution will also expire.

Some journalists fear much tighter restrictions on press freedom in the north under a new constitution, with the editor of the Khartoum Monitor, an English-language daily run by southern Sudanese, saying he fears his paper may be banished.