News from Khartoum
Newspaper editors and Parliament Speaker hold closed meeting
Director General of Sudan’s National intelligence and Security Services, First Lt. Gen. Salah Gosh, Speaker of the National Assembly, Prof. Ibrahim Ahmed Omer, chairman of the Parliament Information Committee, Mr. Al Tayeb Mustafa and Editor-in-Chiefs of newspapers held a closed meeting. Parliament authorities prevented writer Mr. Mohamed Latif from attending the meeting on the grounds that he was a writer not a chief editor.
Sources of Al Rakoba did not rule out that the focus of the meeting was the crisis between journalists and the parliament, especially after the Speaker’s decision to prevent journalists from covering parliamentary sessions. The sources expected that the matter would be settled with the chief editors of the newspapers, so that the newspapers oblige their representatives not to boycott parliament sessions as they did when one of their female colleague was prevented from entering the parliament premises, prompting the Speaker to issue a decision prohibiting journalists from covering the sessions as punishment for their support to their female colleague who published news about the installation of huge screens costing billions of pounds to monitor the deputies who sleep during sessions, a disclosure that displeased the parliament administration.
The sources said it was likely that the aim of the meeting was to discuss recent excesses of security apparatus against the newspapers, particularly the confiscation and disruption of distribution. The sources said that the Chairman of the Parliament Information Committee, Mr. Al Tayeb Mustafa, announced his rejection of the boycott of parliamentary sessions by journalists, although he is the information official who is supposed to support them, claiming that the journalists’ action was politically motivated, adding that a journalist is obliged to cover so long as they are paid by their newspapers.
Journalists are concerned of a possible compromise or a deal between the security chief Salah Gosh and the newspaper chief editors which would lead to further restrictions on the press.
Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides for freedom of expression: “every one shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.