Sudan suspends two biggest newspapers for critical coverage

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Sudan’s security services temporarily suspended the country’s two biggest newspapers to punish them for writing about army operations against rebels and the future plans of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, editors said on Saturday.

Sudan has clamped down on independent media, think tanks and non-governmental groups since it discovered plans for a coup against Bashir's government in November.

Al-Intibaha, Sudan’s biggest daily owned by an uncle of Bashir, said the security services had ordered it to stop publishing for one week because it published a report about the army's fight in South Kordofan, home to a rebellion against the government.

“A security officer called us yesterday without giving a reason,” said editor Sadiq al-Rizigi.

Al-Majhar al-Siyassi, Sudan's second-biggest daily by circulation, said it had been ordered to halt publication for three days after it criticized calls from some officials urging Bashir, in power since 1989, to seek reelection in 2015.

“Our chairman also wrote an article in which he criticized the performance of the defense minister in South Kordofan state,” said its editor Salah Habib.

Sudanese journalists complain of frequent restrictions, even though censorship was officially abolished in the Arab-African country in 2009.

The security service often bans distribution of entire editions to inflict financial losses on newspapers as punishment for critical coverage, journalists say.

The security service was not available to comment.

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