31 December 2017

Sudan: Khartoum Imposes State of Emergency in Kassala, North Kordofan

Photo: Xinhua/The East African
The Khartoum government has withdrawn all its troops from the border with South Sudan, an army official has said.

El Obeid / Kassala — The disarmament campaign has been extended to North Kordofan and Kassala. On Saturday, Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir imposed the State of Emergency in these two states. Activists and politicians doubt the reasons for the measure.

In July, Khartoum announced a large disarmament campaign in the country, to begin with in the five states of Darfur, and South and West Kordofan. Paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces and army soldiers were employed in August to implement the measures.

'No need'

Politicians and activists in North Kordofan however wonder why the State of Emergency has to be imposed for the arms collection.

"In reality, Khartoum wants to further restrict our fundamental rights and freedoms under the pretext of collecting weapons," an activist told Radio Dabanga from the capital of El Obeid. "They just need the State of Emergency to suppress renewed protests against the sky-rocketing prices."

Lawyer Osman Saleh also rejected the idea. "The Sudanese Constitution conditions a declaration of a State of Emergency with disasters and epidemics or foreign intervention."

He expects as well that the government will use the State of Emergency "to tighten its suppression on the currently developing public unrest because of the scarcity of bread and fuel and the crazy price rises".

In Kassala, protests were also heard. Mohamed El Hassan Iheimir, Head of the Unified National Unionist Party in Kassala state told this station that the declaration of the State of Emergency "constitutes an attempt to curtail freedoms under the guise of arms collection.

"Implementing such a measure aims to cut the way for any possible street protests from against the passage of the 2018 budget, the repeated sharp rise of basic consumer prices, and the escalating fuel and wheat shortages," he said.

"Moreover, the State of Emergency will lead to a complete paralysis of the political life in Kassala."

The party leader stated that the authorities do not need the State of Emergency for its disarmament campaign. "Khartoum has been distributing weapons to its loyal tribes and militias, so they know exactly where and from whom they collect the weapons."

Celebration cancelled

Iheimir also reported that the police has prohibited the Unified National Unionist Party from organising an event celebrating Sudan's Independence Day [1 January 1956] at a public square in Kassala.

"They instructed us to organise the happening within the party's headquarters instead."

The politician considered the action "a clear violation of the Constitution and the decisions of the President of the Republic.

"The party met all the required conditions as we have informed the police eight days before the event would take place - although the law provides for only three-day prior notification," he said. "The prohibition is clearly an attempt to suppress dissenting opinions."

The celebration will now take inside the party headquarters on Monday.

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