Sudan authorities seize newspapers after bread price rise criticism

A Sudanese man works at a bakery in the capital Khartoum on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2018
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Sudan authorities seize newspapers after bread price rise criticism

KHARTOUM: Sudanese security agents on Sunday seized all copies of six newspapers after they criticized the government over soaring bread prices that have almost doubled this week, editors said.
Discontent has been simmering over the past few days as bread prices jumped on the back of a sharp rise in the cost of flour after a government decision to shift importing of wheat to private sector companies.
Several newspapers have criticized the decision concerning wheat imports, while the country’s opposition groups called for nationwide demonstrations against the price rise.
On Sunday, members of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confiscated entire print runs of Al-Tayar, Al-Mustagilla, Al-Karar, Al-Midan, Al-Assayha and Akhbar Al-Watan newspapers.
Akhbar Al-Watan and Al-Midan are mouthpieces of opposition Sudanese Congress Party and the Communist Party, while the other four newspapers are independent journals that often report criticism of the government.
“No reason was given for confiscating copies of our newspaper but I think it was due to our transparent coverage of the food price rise,” said Hanadi Al-Sidiq, editor of Akhbar Al-Watan.
Editors of other newspapers also confirmed to AFP that NISS agents had confiscated the entire print runs of their Sunday editions.
Media in Sudan are frequently targeted for their reporting. The country regularly ranks near the bottom of international press freedom rankings.
An opposition group said its members were also targeted after the call for nationwide demonstrations against the price rise.
Two senior leaders of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party have been detained by NISS agents, the party said in a statement.
On Saturday, police fired tear gas at groups of students protesting the price rise in the central Sudanese town of Sennar, witnesses told AFP.
Sudan witnessed sporadic protests in late 2016 after a government decision to cut fuel subsidies.
The authorities cracked down on those protests in an attempt to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed a similar round of subsidy cuts in 2013.
Dozens of people were killed in 2013 protests when security forces crushed large street demonstrations, drawing international condemnation.


Africa’s youngest billionaire free 9 days after abduction

Updated 34 min 37 sec ago
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Africa’s youngest billionaire free 9 days after abduction

  • Dar es Salaam Regional Police Chief Lazaro Mambosasa confirmed the release and said authorities continue to investigate
  • Forbes magazine in 2016 put Dewji's wealth at $1.5 billion

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania: The man described as Africa's youngest billionaire said Saturday he is free more than a week after his abduction from a luxury hotel in Tanzania's commercial capital, while police suggested his captors came from South Africa.
"I thank Allah that I have returned home safely," said a statement released by the 43-year-old Mohammed Dewji's foundation. It did not give details about the Oct. 11 abduction or what led to his release but thanked police for working for his safe return.
Dar es Salaam Regional Police Chief Lazaro Mambosasa confirmed the release and said authorities continue to investigate. There was no mention of a ransom being paid.
"We got information that the abductors used the same car that was used to seize him at the Colosseum Hotel and dumped him at gymkhana (sports facility) grounds," Mambosasa said. "We found him there physically fit, and we suspect that the abductors are South Africans because he said they were communicating in one of the vernacular from that country."
Environment Minister January Makamba, in a statement posted on Twitter, said he had spoken with Dewji and "he's the usual Mo. So he is okay."
Dewji, while arriving at the hotel for a workout, had been seized by two masked gunmen who fired into the air before driving away. Regional authorities said two white men were seen on surveillance video and quickly tightened controls at border posts and airports.
Forbes magazine in 2016 put Dewji's wealth at $1.5 billion.