22.11.2019

Sudan’s journalist union says its head detained by military

A Sudanese editor who heads the country’s main journalist’s union has been detained, the union said.

On July 11, the military announced it had foiled a coup attempt without specifying when it took place. [Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]

The Sudanese Journalists’ Union called on the ruling Transitional Military Council to “immediately release” its head Sadiq al-Rizaigi, who is also editor of Al-Sayha newspaper, or that he be put on trial.

A senior journalist with Rizaigi’s newspaper told AFP news agency that security forces took him away from outside the newspaper’s offices.

“We do not know where he is being held or the reasons for his detention,” said Awad Jad Al-Sayid, news editor of Al-Sahya.

Arrests over coup attempt

The detention of Rizaigi on Wednesday came amid the military claiming it had arrested a top general, several security officers and leaders over a foiled coup attempt announced earlier this month.

It said it had arrested General Hashim Abdel Muttalib, the head of the joint chiefs of staff, and a number of officers from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) along with leaders of the Islamic Movement and the National Congress Party.

On July 11, the military announced it had foiled a coup attempt without specifying when it took place.

Sudanese media also reported that among those arrested was General Bakri Hassan Saleh, a former first vice president and prime minister, and a prominent figure in the 1989 coup that brought now removed president Omar al-Bashir to power.

Ali Karty, a former foreign minister, and Zubair Ahmed Hassan, an ex-finance minister, were also arrested according to sources who spoke to Reuters News Agency.

During Bashir’s three-decade rule, the press was severely curtailed, according to media activists.

NISS agents cracked down regularly on journalists or confiscated entire print-runs of newspapers for publishing articles deemed critical of al-Bashir’s policies.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) recorded at least 100 cases of press freedom violations this year during the protests that finally led to al-Bashir’s overthrow in April.

RSF ranks Sudan 175th out of 180 countries in its 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

Will power be shared in Sudan?

Once again, people are out on the streets. But this time, the Sudanese Professionals Association has mobilised its supporters to show they are committed to a new start.

For months, thousands protested in Sudan, calling for civilian rule.

Several people were killed and hundreds injured.

This comes after Ethiopia and the African Union worked to bring them all to the negotiating table.

Sudan’s opposition coalition has met to resolve differences over the formation of a transitional government with the ruling military council.

Now, they have reached what they call “a political deal”. But the military says it foiled a coup attempt on Wednesday.

And the military’s chief of staff was among high-ranking officials who were arrested.

So with the deal yet to be implemented, what does it all mean?

And can turmoil be contained?

Presenter: Richelle Carey

Guests:

Samahir Elmubarak – Spokesperson for the Sudanese Professionals Association

Waleed Madibo – Founder and president of the Sudan Policy Form

Yasir Arman – Sudanese opposition member

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