Three leading newspapers in Sudan have been blocked from circulation after they reported public protests over a sharp rise in food prices following a government s decision stop the public sector from importing wheat.
On Thursday, agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Sudan confiscated the print-runs of Al-Tayar, Al-Midan and Al-Jadida newspapers after they alongside other publications run editorials criticizing the government decision that only the private sector would trade in wheat imports. The officers stopped all the produced copies of the papers from getting into Khartoum and other towns without making any explanation to media owners nor the editors, AFP reports.
“The agents of NISS confiscated all copies of our newspaper today without giving any reason,” Al-Jadida editor Ashraf Abdelaziz told AFP.
Sudan, which ranks among the worst of states in respecting media freedom, gagged the three dallies with the NISS being a frequent media observer that whenever government feels rattled would rush to grab the public informers by the neck.
The government’s decision in January triggered a sharp rise in flour prices, angering the country’s citizenry and has left the state under sharp criticism from the opposition.
Just like in Kenya, in January, several opposition leaders in Sudan were arrested in an effort to frustrate their protests over the sky high food prices that have affected mostly wheat products as bread.
A number of journalists, who were covering the protests in parts of the country, were also held by the government in a move to intimidate them. They have since been released, according to media reports.
The state’s decisions to cut down on subsidies on oil and key commodities in the country in 2013 and 2016 faced similar protests and in recent days, opposition groups have take to the streets chanting anti-government slogans but repulsed by anti-riot police and NISS officers.