State of emergency extended in Sudan

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USCR / IRIN, 11 December - Sudan's National Assembly on Sunday unanimously approved the extension of the country's state of emergency "until the end of the reasons that had led to its declaration," according to the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA).

The decision was taken after a report to the assembly by the Security and National Defence Committee, it reported.

President Umar Hasan al-Bashir said the latest extension of the state of emergency - first imposed in December 1999 - was necessary because of the war in the south, armed banditry in western Sudan and the tense state of global affairs since the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, according to state radio reports, cited by Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency.

Bashir said he hoped the emergency status could be lifted at the end of 2002, it added.

The state of emergency was declared in December 1999 after Bashir fell out with his erstwhile ally, former Speaker of Parliament, Umar Hasan al-Turabi, after a power struggle within the ruling National Congress party.

Turabi has been held in detention since February after his Popular National Congress (PNC) party - a splinter from the National Congress after Turabi's ouster - signed a memorandum of understanding with the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), which undertook to step up "peaceful popular resistance" in Sudan. 

What had appeared to be serious efforts to democratise Sudan were discontinued at the end of 2000, with some security laws tightened and the security police stepping up their activities, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan, Gerhart Baum, reported to the UN General Assembly in September 2001.

It appeared that, with the extension of the state of emergency to the end of 2001, restrictions on nongovernmental organisations and the media, and a campaign of harassment, intimidation and persecution of political opponents of the government, political freedom had actually been restricted rather than relaxed this year, Baum stated.



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