Sudan : Press council closes two English-language dailies indefinitely



    MONTREAL, le 3 sept. /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns a
decision by the National Press and Publications Council (NPPC) on 1 September
to suspend two privately-owned English-language national dailies based in the
south of the country, The Citizen and Sudan Tribune, for an indefinite period.
    "The closure of these two southern-based dailies is the harshest measure
taken so far in the wave of censorship launched by the government at the start
of the year," Reporters Without Borders said. "Depriving the semi-autonomous
south of its means of expression will just fuel the tension between the south
and Khartoum. The NPPC should be more reasonable and rescind this decision."
    In a letter to the Sudan Tribune on 1 September, the NPPC said it was
closing the newspaper for "administrative" reasons. The previous day, the
security forces went to the place where the latest issue of The Citizen was
about to be printed and told employees its publication was forbidden.
    The NPPC claims that, by choosing to be based in Juba, the capital of the
semi-autonomous south, the editors of the two newspapers are violating their
licences, which require them to be in Khartoum.
    Sudan Tribune editor and owner William Ezekiel told Reporters Without
Borders the NPPC also accuses his newspaper of obstructing the 2005 peace
agreement that ended the civil war between the north and the south. He said
the closure was "unacceptable" and "serves the interests of the ruling party"
in Khartoum.
    The closures came after several months of what the southern media
describe as a government-orchestrated campaign of intimidation. Ezekiel said
his newspaper had not been able to appear for nearly 20 days as the
authorities had seized all the copies from its printing presses in Khartoum on
17 occasions.
    Censorship was officially lifted in Sudan in July 2005, after the peace
accord was signed with the rebels of the southern Sudan People's Liberation
Movement. The government restored censorship for the privately-owned media on
6 February of this year after they referred several times to Khartoum's
support of a Chadian rebel offensive against N'Djamena.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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