Sudanese authorities have summoned editors from two papers, accusing them of insulting President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is running for re-election in April’s first multi-party polls in 24 years, the publications said on Monday.
Editors from the opposition Ajras al-Huriya and al-Rai al-Shaab newspapers were both questioned by the National Press Council, which accused them of breaking the law and insulting the president, which could carry a penalty of a temporary closure — financially crippling for papers heavily dependent on corporate advertising for revenue.
“They asked us: how can you criticize the president?” said Faiz Alsiaik, acting editor in chief of Ajras al-Huriya, politically allied with the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
“They asked us where was our evidence that Bashir had killed 10,000 in Darfur,” Alsiaik told News Agency on Monday.
Bashir has told two live press conferences broadcast to nine countries that the death toll of Darfur’s conflict was 10,000 compared to the U.N. estimate of 300,000 dead.
Last week the opposition al-Rai al-Shaab newspaper was summoned on the same charge. It was questioned over two articles including one saying Bashir should hand himself over to the International Criminal Court, which last year indicted him for war crimes in Darfur.
The National Press Council said investigations were ongoing.
“This is a procedure. The committee will first see if there is a violation and after that they will issue a decision,” Elobeid Marawih, secretary-general of the press council, said.
SOURCED FROM REUTERS