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June 2010 - Posts

Sudan’s SPLM & NCP sign MOU on post-referendum arrangements

June 27, 2010 (JUBA) – The two parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party (NCP), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a roadmap for issues of post-referendum arrangements.

The document was signed this week in Mekele town in Ethiopia between representatives of the SPLM, also representing the Government of Southern Sudan and the NCP, representing the Government of National Unity (GoNU).

In a statement to the press, the minister of Information and official spokesperson, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said the agreement was about the modalities and structures for future discussions on the post-referendum issues.

Dr. Marial further explained that the document was a culmination of the work of the current Southern Sudan Referendum Task force, chaired by the Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny.

The Task Force serves as an oversight body that guides the whole processes and prepares the ground for conduct of free and fair referendum a part from the would-be formed technical Southern Sudan Referendum Commission.

The first session of the post-elections Council of Ministers held its meeting on Friday, chaired by President General Salva Kiir Mayardit, and approved the agreement as presented by Dr. Luka Biong Deng, GoNU’s minister of Cabinet Affairs, on behalf of the GoSS minister of Peace and CPA Implementation, Pagan Amum Okiech.

The Taskforce is sub-divided into three groups that include the sub-committee for the conduct of the referendum that will be responsible for mobilization of the people to vote among many other preparations.

Another sub-committee is on the post-referendum arrangements, including the future of oil, assets, liabilities, security, international agreements, etc., while the third one is on preparations of the Government of Southern Sudan for a post-2011 governance on decentralization, including the review of the interim constitution of Southern Sudan.

The sub-committee on the conduct of the referendum is headed by the Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, John Luk Jok, while the other sub-committee on governance in post-2011 Southern Sudan is headed by the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Kosti Manibe, three of them making up the overall Task Force chaired by the Vice President.

Dr. Barnaba Marial added that negotiations with the National Congress Party on such issues are expected to resume on 1st July 2010.

Police arrests Sudanese models after fashion show in Khartoum

June 25, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – More 25 people shortly arrested by the Sudanese authorities in the capital Khartoum after performing the first mixed-gender fashion show on Thursday.

Sudanese models are seen backstage late June 24, 2010 during the first mixed-gender fashion show in Khartoum (Getty)The arrest took place the organization of the show in a popular Khartoum club on Thursday evening. Fashion shows are not a novelty in the Sudanese capital, but it was the first to feature male and female models parading under the same roof there.

"I spent the night in jail but it is not clear why they arrested us," Sudan-born male model Rashad el-Nimeiry, who holds US nationality, told AFP on Friday after his release with all the arrested people.

The model further wondered "We were decently dressed. There were wedding clothes".

During Thursday’s fashion show, male models showed Western outfits, parading with their shirts unbuttoned, while their female counterparts wore classical party clothes.

There was no immediate explanation from police on Friday as to why they were arrested. However, many were told to appear on Sunday before the state prosecutor amid speculation that they could be charged with indecency.

One of arrested model said prison guards insulted them. "In prison, the guards called me ’you gay’," he said.

Asked if they had been accused of specific crime or any violation of the law, many of the arrested said ignoring the reason.

"I don’t know what will happen on Sunday. This (fashion show) is a new thing in Sudan and they don’t know what to do with us," a model said.

Islamic law implemented only in northern Sudan stipulates a maximum of 40 lashes for wearing clothing deemed to be indecent.

Al-Qaddafi: Libya will not Allow Launching of Aggression against Sudan from Libyan Territories

Khartoum, June 26 (SUNA)- President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, Thursday evening made a phone call with the Libyan Leader, Muammar Al-Qaddafi, and discussed progress of the relations between Sudan and Libya

 

Through the phone call, President Al-Bashir expressed Sudan protest over the hostile acts of the Justice and Equality Movement

 

Meanwhile, Al-Qaddafi said that he will not allow launching of any hostile act from Libya against Sudan

 

He denounced any attempt to undermine the historic relations between the two countries, saying that Sudan is a sister country and Libya is keen to support its security

 

Al-Qaddafi pledged to continue consultation with Sudan on all the issues that realize the security and stability at the region

Sudan to Celebrate World Day on Combat of Drugs Saturday

Khartoum, June 25 (SUNA) - The National Commission for Combating Drugs, in collaboration with the General Administration for Combating Narcotics of the Ministry of Interior, will to celebrate Saturday at the Police Club the World Day for combating Drugs, which coincides with June 26 of every year under the slogan "Yes to Life, No to Drugs". In this regard, the Chairman of the National Commission for Combating Narcotics, Prof. Al-Gizouli Dafa'alla, revealed in the regular press forum of Sudan News Agency Thursday the results of a study conducted by the Commission on the use of drugs in 13 universities in Khartoum State, saying that the study disclosed that the use of drug at the universities in Khartoum State reached 10%, expressing regret over the increase of drugs' users among students

 

Prof. Daffa'alla referred to the efforts of the commission to control the growing drugs phenomenon with the Vice Chancellors and officials in the universities, referring to pans to carry out studies to indetify the volume of drugs use in number camuses as well as the regular sectors

 

Chairman of the National Commission for Combating Narcotics stressed the necessity to establish a number of rehabilitation centres for the treatment of addiction, explaining that the Commission submitted a project in this regard to the authorities last year and is waiting for final approval from the concerned circles

 

Prof. Daffa'alla highlighted on the accomplishments made by the Commission last year in the fields of raising public awareness about the dangers of narcotics as well as holding a number of workshops and forums in all the states, with special focus in Khartoum State, saying that the phenomenon of drugs use has become a real big problem, and that what is being reported in the police records does not exceed 10% of what is really existing

 

He also spoke about the obstacles facing the Commission's work, such as lack of specific budget, pointing out that the Commission will meet with the President and the Wali (governor) of Khartoum State to resolve the funding problem in the near future

 

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Hamdi Khalifa, the Director of the General Administration for Combating Narcotics, expressed his satisfaction over the efforts being done by the National Commission for combating Narcotics to reduce the phenomenon since its inception in the 1960s til its reactivation in the 1990s under the chairmanship of Professor Gizouli Dafa'alla, the former Prime Minister, explaining that the Commission has led the efforts to combat drugs in Sudan

 

He referred to the achievements made by the Legal Sub-Committee of the National Commission for Combating Narcotics, for amendment of the Narcotics Act and the accompanying laws, such as the Smoking Act and Pharmacy and Poisons Act which have been submitted to the official authorities for ratification

 

Maj. Gen. Hamdi Khalifa dislosed that the General Administration for Combating Narcotics has reported around 484 drugs reports with 628 accused and that the quantity of hashish seized during the current year has reached one ton and 762 Kg and 459 grams

 

He explained that the administration has submitted an anti-drug plan to the Sovereign Sector for approval, pointing to the training of college students to work in the combating of drugs at campuses

Minister of Foreign Affairs Commends Libya Keenness to Complete Peace and Stability in Darfur

Khartoum, June 25 (SUNA) - The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Ahmed Karti, has expressed Sudan appreciation of the Libyan efforts to support peace and stability in Sudan

 

The minister also commended Libya's keenness to help completing the peace process and realizing peace and stability in Darfur

 

The minister referred in a statement to SUNA to the confirmations given by the Libyan Leader, Muammar Al-Qaddafi Thursday during a phone conversation with President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, that Libya will not allow any hostile act to be launched against Sudan from inside its territories

 

He said that the phone call between the two leaders discussed also the best ways to complete the peace process and to realize stability in Sudan

 

The minister reiterated that the completion of peace process is a strategic option for Sudan, and entails the unification of efforts by the friendly and sisterly states.

Al Bashir Directs Adherence to Laws, By-Laws in Public Expenditures

The new Cabinet held last Thursday its inaugural sitting under the chairmanship of President Al Bashir with attendance of his two deputies, Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and Ali Osman Mohamed Taha.



President Al Bashir stated that security, stability and peace in South Sudan was the prime concern of his government, pledging to effect the announced program of his party. He added, “We are approaching peace upon conviction rather than being forced. We will work for making unity attractive, while respecting the choice of southerners either way, and whatever were the difficulties and pains.”

 


President Al Bashir had directed strict adherence to laws and regulations, as well as the enforced financial and administrative measures, for controlling public expenditure and devoting resources to objectives set. He also underlined the importance of commitment to the approved eight objectives   of the national strategic plan.

 


FVP and President of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), Salva Kiir said, “We want to achieve peace in Darfur so as to have complete peace in Sudan.” He added that experience had shown that dialogue is the best means of sorting out differences.

 


VP Taha said tasks ahead of the new government dictate optimal utilization of time, while the activities of ministers should focus out-door-work. He added, “Presumably, this cabinet is a cross-sectional representation of the country, geographically and in terms of specializations.”  

 


Cabinet General Secretary, Omer Mohammed Saleh, reported that the new ministries had been established in accordance with strict standards so as to advance performance in high-priority fields.

 


Addressing the sitting President Al Bashir welcomed the newly-appointed ministers and expressed his pleasure over the harmonious set-up of the Government which will contribute to realization of political stability, development,  and implementation of the socio-economic programs that would meet the aspirations of the people of the Sudan, who had placed their utmost confidence on the parties of the government.

 


Ministers interpolations focused three pivots: strict commitment to implementing the agreed-upon programs, diligent work for realizing voluntary unity and vigorous endeavor to swiftly achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace in Darfur.

Sudan School Certificate Success Rate Hits 71.9%,

Khartoum, Mohamed Abdallah


The Ministry of Higher Education last Thursday announced the results of the Sudan School Certificate examination for the year 2009-2010.

The success percentage in the academic section reached 71.9%  compared to 71.6 last year with an increase of 0.6%.
Student Hana'a Mohammed Ahmed came on top of countrywide list scoring 97.1%.
The success percentage in government schools amounted to 76.2% whilst private schools scored 74% and Teachers' Union schools 65.6%, besides 74.5 for private students.
For the academic section the number of students who passed  the exams amounted to 284,508 out of 395,920.
The success percentage for girls' schools is 74.3%, boys 69.8%.
The number of girls who passed the exams is 136,578 out of 183,915 and the 147,930 boys passed out of 212,005 who sat for the exams.
Students Rayan Ibrahim Hassan and Mona Babiker came second with 97%.
It is to be noted that 72 female students came on top list out of 98.
On his part, Minister of General Education Dr. Farah Mustafa Abdallah affirmed in the press conference of the results announcement the existence of positive indications in the educational process represented by the increase of those who sat for Sudan School certificate examination compared to last years' numbers, pointing out that the increase amounted to 6.7% in general.
In the science section, the increase of those who sat for the exams amounted to 1.8% whilst it is 8.8 in arts section and 28.6 in Quranic, 3.1 in technical sections.
The increase in Darfur states amounted to 19.3% and in South Sudan States 16.3%.
Dr. Farah affirmed the concern of his ministry to upgrade the education at federal level besides paying more attention to States to boost development.
On his part Sudan Examinations Director General, Mukhtar Mohammed Mukhtar announced that the date of next Sudan School Certificate examination will be the 28th of March 2011.
Student Fatma Al-Zahra'a came on top of the list of Ahlia section with 92.5%, student Saeed Abdul Rahman scored 91.4 in Quranic section.
The success percentage in technical section reached 50.7%, Trade 55.9%, industrial 46.5%, agricultural 50%, women 51%.
The success percentage for students who sat the exams abroad centres reached 71.5%.
Northern State registered the top success percentage (81.6%), Gezira 80%, Khartoum 72.6%, South Kordufan 62.2%, Western Darfur 51.7%, North Kurdofan 70.9%, Gedaref 75.5%, Upper Nile 59.2%.
In Northern State the public schools scored 95% success rate compared to 80% for private ones.
In Khartoum State public schools scored 86.9% compared to 74.7% for private ones.
In Gezira state public schools scored 81.8% compared to 85.8% for private ones.
On South Kurdofan the public schools success percentage reached 60% compared to 62.4 for the private schools.
In North Darfur, it is 55% for public schools compared to 62.1% for private ones.
In South Darfur it is 50.9% for public schools and 64.8% for private schools.
In Eastern Equatoria it is 99.2% for public schools.
In Upper Nile it is 52.7% for public schools compared to 67.6% for private ones.
In Warrap the success percentage amounted to 77.1%.
In Bahr El Jebel it reached 74% for public schools compared to 88.2% for private ones.
Student Ibrahim Saleh came on top of the commercial section with 87% from Red Sea State.
In Industrial section Student Mohammed Al-Mahdi came on top with 86.7% for Northern State.
Yagoub Habib came on top of the agricultural section with 71.3% from Gedaref State.
The vocational education certificate success percentage amounted to 75.7%.
For the academic section the success percentage in Arabic language subject was 81.7%.
In English the percentage is 81.2%.
In Basic Mathematics, the percentage is 77.6%.
It is to be noted that, prior the announcement of the results, Minister of General Education, Dr. Mustafa and the Ministry's Undersecretary, Dr. Mutasim Abdul Rahim met with President of the Republic to brief him on the results of Sudan School Certificate together with their remarks including the number of south Sudan student who sat for the exams with a number of more than 3 thousand studying the national syllabus and the increase of those who sat from Darfur states with 19%.
The President affirmed the importance of education factor calling on the Ministry to review the impacts of the globalization on education with reviewing the educational system.
Al Bashir directed the Ministry to contact the states of low educational achievements to analyze the aspects and resolve the obstacles with supporting the private education through allocating lands with reasonable prices. 

 

 
Thirteen Killed in Clashes between SPLA and Militias

Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) announced last Wednesday that ten elements of Athor militia men and three SPLA soldiers had been killed in clashes between the two forces. The clashes took place in Jonglei State.


SPLA also announced that a 35 - strong search team encountered some Athor's militia men last Tuesday after a day of forcing him out of his hideout.

 


The SPLA also revealed that Athor had coordinated attacks with two other militia commanders in neighboring Jonglei and Unity States the thing that raises fear over stability in the area prior to the referendum scheduled for January 2011 which may be  accompanied by unrest. Reports say there were attacks here and there but they did not escalate into large scale mutiny.

 


SPLA spokesman, Kuol Deim Kuol said that a reconnaissance team lighted upon Athor's hideout and an exchange of fire followed near the village of Darre, Khor Fulus pointing out that 13 of Athor's militia lost their lives while the SPLA suffered three casualities. Athor made no comment on this matter.

 


Kuol earlier said that some SPLA men had attacked Athor's militia in the village of Winlam last Monday evening after having been led there by one of Athor's men who was a POW. Kuol further said that Athor and thirteen of his family members and close aides had fled and that SPLA forces are pursuing them and expecting to capture them in a few days time. Kuol also revealed that the SPLA had arrested thirteen of Athor's men and confiscated their communication devices last Monday evening.

 


The army said last week that it had expelled Galwak Gai the rebel militia leader from his base in Unity State.

 

 

It is worth mentioning that Athor built up a militia after failing to be an elected Jonglei governor in last April's elections which made him accuse the SPLM, of rigging the elections in the South. 
Parliament to Host Cabinet, Monday

 SUNA: The Parliament has been scheduled to host the new Cabinet on this Monday for introduction and coordination between the legislative and executive organs.

House Speaker, Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir, reported that the current parliamentary session would be extended from the 23rd to the 30th of this month for finalizing endorsement of the tabled interim Presidential Decrees.
Parliament had forwarded a number of presidential decrees to the specialized committees for studying and reporting thereon.
 
MP Ali Ahmed Suleiman, presented a proposal suggesting MPs’ sponsorship of fraternity between Southerner and Northerner parliament members in support of Sudan unity and stability. The proposal received MPs applause.

Salva Kiir affirms possibility of realization of voluntary unity

Juba, June 19 (SUNA) - First Vice President of the Republic and President of the Government of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit has affirmed the possibility of the realization of voluntary unity

 

Addressing a celebration in Juba Saturday on the occasion of the reappointment of Dr. Riek Machar as Vice-President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir pointed out that Machokos Protocol stipulated giving priority to the unity of Sudan as well as giving the citizens of southern Sudan the opportunity to exercise their right to choose unity or separation

 

Salva Kiir said the referendum will be held as scheduled

 

On his part, Dr. Machar affirmed the importance of safeguarding peace

Darfur mediator says peace deal to be reached before S. Sudan referendum

June 16, 2010 (NEW YORK) — The African Union (AU)-United Nations (UN) Joint Chief Mediator Dijibril Bassole, told the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) today that a final peace agreement should be signed before the South Sudan referendum on self determination scheduled for January 2011.

Djibril Bassolé, Joint African Union-United Nations Chief Mediator for Darfur, briefs the Security Council on 14 June 2010 (UN Photo/Evan Schneider)The date had been determined during a joint consultative meeting between the AU and the UN held early May in Addis Ababa. The meeting also reaffirmed the need for an inclusive process taking into account all issues of concerns to the people of Darfur.

The session also decided that, to achieve this objective, the Joint Chief mediator has to work in coordination with the chief of the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) envoy and the head of Darfur peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) under the leadership of the former South African President Thabo Mbeki who heads the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

Among other things, AUHIP was tasked with assisting the Sudanese parties in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and other related processes, as part of the democratic transformation of Sudan.

In accordance with the decisions of the consultative meeting "every effort should be made to ensure that a political agreement on the Darfur crisis is reached before the referendum of January 2011," Bassole announced before the 15 members of the UN Security Council on Monday.

Bassole further said that in line with these recommendations the mediation has established a schedule of talks allowing to finalize separate protocols on the different issues followed by an inclusive and final agreement.

"This agreement which shall be open to all warring parties should mark the end of the International Mediation as a means of resolving the crisis in Darfur and promote ways and means to implement effectively the consensus reached with the involvement of civil society," he added.

The mediator told the UNSC that his team intends to submit a protocol to the delegations of the government and the rebels on the return of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Refugees and the compensations. The negotiations on this issue will begin on June 24 after the arrival of IDPs and refugees delegates to Doha.

The Government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) agreed on a June 7 date to start direct peace talks and established six commissions to tackle the agenda of the talks including the security arrangements, power and wealth sharing, justice and reconciliation, and conflict resolution.

The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which suspended its participation in the peace talks since May 2, said it wants the reform of the peace process in a way to widen the mandate of the joint mediator and requested guarantees of the neutrality of the host country, Qatar, accused of favoring the Sudanese government.

Another rebel group boycotting the peace process, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel Wahid Al-Nur, maintains its initial position based on the need to provide security for the civilians and disarmament of militias loyal to the Sudanese government before to join the peace process.

However, Bassole told the UNSC that the mediation will exert the necessary efforts to ensure the effective participation of all the rebel groups in the final phase of the talks. In addition he pledged to work to bring the JEM back to the negotiating table and finalize a ceasefire agreement between Khartoum and the rebel group.

He also urged the members of the Council to require the government and JEM rebels to observe the cessation of hostilities signed on February 23 and to encourage all the rebel groups and the government to make dialogue the only way to resolve the seven year conflict.

US earmarks $60 mln for South Sudan referendum

June 16, 2010 (JUBA) – The US government has allocated sixty million ($60m) dollars to assist in the process of the upcoming referendum in Southern Sudan.

This was revealed in a meeting on Tuesday between the Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, and the United States Consul General in Juba, Ava Rogers.

The American official briefed the Vice President on the technical support the United States government has initiated for the process of the upcoming referendum in Southern Sudan. She said the $60 million dollars budget will be channeled through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The Consul General reiterated her country’s commitment to see a timely conduct of the referendum in Southern Sudan as scheduled.

Other American-based independent agencies among which include the National Democratic Institute (NDI) will also participate in providing technical support during the process, she said.

Dr. Machar, who also chairs the Southern Sudan Referendum Task Force, informed the US official on the ongoing formation process of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, which he said, will begin its work soon after endorsement of its membership by the National Assembly in Khartoum.

Earlier, the United Nations through its Southern Sudan office in Juba pledged to avail more than eighty million ($80m) US dollars towards the referendum process.

Last year the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) had approved 20 million for the conduct of both the April general elections and the upcoming January 2011 referendum.

Ethiopia imports $1.2 Billion fuel from Sudan, Djibouti

June 16, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia said on Tuesday that it has imported 1.8 million metric tones of oil from Sudan and via Djibouti at a cost of 16.4 billion Birr (some 1.22 Billion USD).

The Ethiopian Petroleum Enterprise said that the fuel was imported from Sudan and Djibouti during the past 11months and it has seen a 7.4 percent rise from same time last year.

Speaking to Ethiopia News Agency, Public Relation Officer with the Enterprise, Damenu Kebret said that, currently some 195 fuel tanker trucks enter the country daily carrying 45,000 liters of oil each. He said Currently Sufficient oil reserve is available in the country due the huge oil purchases made.

Some 80 % of Ethiopia’s oil demand comes from neighboring Sudan based on the two governments’ special agreement, which allows Ethiopia to purchase on lower prices from the global oil market.

Ethiopia uses the neighbor country as a major oil source to reduce massive transport costs. According to the Ethiopian Petroleum Enterprise, Oil imports from Sudan could save the country up to US $7 million per year.

The Ethiopian Petroleum Enterprise reasoned out the successive rapid economic growth of the country for the steadily increasing Oil consumption of the country.

Ethiopia sees its Economy growing by 11% this year.The Economist magazine predicts Ethiopia’s economy to grow by 7% in 2010 and predicts the country to be the 5th fastest growing economy in 2010. Last year, the magazine predicted Ethiopia as the 4th fastest growing economy for2009.

The IMF has rewarded the government’s economic management with financial support, and a strong performance in agriculture, the mainstay of the country, will make Ethiopia as one of the fastest-growing economies.

President Al-Bashir and Custodian of the Two Hoy Mosques Discuss Bilateral Relations

Khartoum, June 15 (SUNA)- President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, Tuesday made a phone call with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdalla bin Abdul-Aziz, and discussed progress of the relations between Sudan and Saudi Arabia and the situation at the Arab and international arenas

US slams ’political repression’ by Sudanese authorities

June 8, 2010 (WASHINGTON) — The United States today issued a statement criticizing what it called "a pattern of increasing political repression" in the East African nation of Sudan lately despite emerging from the first multi-party elections held since 1986.

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U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley

The U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Washington is concerned over "the deteriorating environment for civil and political rights in Khartoum, including the arrest of opposition leaders, journalists, and peaceful demonstrators".

"In mid-May, Sudanese authorities arrested two prominent opposition leaders, releasing one after several hours while they continue to hold the other in detention. We are also troubled by the closure of the Rai al-Sha’ab newspaper and the arrests and alleged mistreatment of Rai al-Sha’ab staff members" Crowley said.

The Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi and four staff of his al-Rai al-Sha’ab paper, mouthpiece of Turabi’s Popular Congress Party (PCP) were taken into custody last month. Around the same time authorities detained opposition figure Farouk Abu Eissa and released him after several hours of questioning.

The lawyer for the PCP detainees Mohamed Al-Alim have told Reuters that the deputy editor in chief of the paper, Abu Zar al-Amin, had been charged with terrorism, espionage and destabilizing the constitutional system.

He also said the other three newspaper staff had not been charged so far and Turabi "has not even been questioned. The government has accused Turabi of directing rebel attacks in the strife-ridden Darfur region.

Al-Alim said al-Amin had been tortured in jail. The PCP sent Reuters a picture of al-Amin’s back, with a large bruise which his brother said was the result of security forces beating him. Al-Amin remains isolated in police custody.

A security source denied any torture had occurred. "This absolutely does not happen," the source said.

The U.S. official also blasted barring three Sudanese activists from the country to participate in the International Criminal Court Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda. He also noted the crackdown against doctors who went on strike and staged protests demanding better pay and working conditions.

"We call on the Government of Sudan to ensure that those in custody are afforded due process and receive access to medical care. We also call for the Sudanese security agencies to cease any censorship of media. The United States is concerned by the continued harassment of journalists, human rights advocates, and nongovernmental organizations in Sudan and reminds the Government of Sudan of its international obligations to respect human rights, including freedoms of assembly and of the press" Crowley said.

Direct pre-publication censorship was reintroduced for two daily papers in Sudan last month and others also complained they were visited by Sudanese security forces who removed many pages of content.

Other papers said they were called and told not to write about specific news including the strike by doctors over pay and working conditions and the International Criminal Court, unless it was from a government source.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for President Omer Hassan al-Bashir last year for war crimes during a brutal counter-insurgency campaign in Sudan’s western Darfur region, charges he rejects.

April elections, marked by opposition boycotts and allegations of widespread fraud, returned Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to power in the north with a massive majority. Since then, it has cracked down on political and press freedoms.

Sudan’s press opened up after the 2005 north-south peace deal. But media freedom suffered as a result of rising tensions with the ICC and Darfur’s separate humanitarian crisis, triggered after 2 million fled their homes during the fighting.

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