Khartoum / El Obeid — The vice-president of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) was detained by security agents in Khartoum on Friday. The following day, seven other opposition leaders were held in the North Kordofan capital.
Officers of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained SCP Vice-President Khaled Omar from his family home in Erkawit in Khartoum on Friday evening.
On Saturday, NISS agents raided the premises of the Communist Party of Sudan (CPoS) branch in El Obeid and held seven prominent members of the SCP, CPoS, the National Umma Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Socialist Baath Party, and the Sudanese Baath Party.
Six of them were released on Saturday evening. CPoS leader Muawiya Mukhtar is still being held.
The SCP is the most activist opposition party in Sudan. Members regularly demand democracy, justice, and restoration of freedoms at public places in the country, and party leaders publicly call for regime change. The NISS just as regularly detains activists of the party.
The party's current president, Omar El Digeir, was held in El Obeid on 7 January, together with two other leading party members. Former president Ibrahim El Sheikh and head of the SCP Human Rights Secretariat Jalal Mustafa were arrested in Khartoum the same day. Two daughters of El Sheikh and five other relatives, among them a 16-year-old boy, were detained in Khartoum North on January 31.
Hundreds of activists and politicians who protested the new austerity measures in early January were detained, many of them incommunicado. A number of them were transferred from the Sudanese capital to prisons in Darfur, and from Sennar to Khartoum.
Journalists covering the protests were also arrested, including correspondents of AFP and Reuters. Newspapers were gagged.
After President Omar Al Bashir ordered the release of all political detainees in the country on February 18, the NISS allowed about 50 of them to leave Kober Prison in Khartoum North. At least 100 others are still being held.
The SCP Central Council has appointed Mastour Ahmed interim president of the party after the detention of Omar on Friday
Mohamed Hassan Arabi, spokesman for the party announced in a statement on Sunday that Ahmed, Secretary-general of the party assumed the function of head of the Political Bureau.
Arabi emphasised that despite the continued arrests of many members, the party will continue its struggle for a democratic Sudan.