March 6, 2019 / 6:28 PM / 16 days ago

Sudanese opposition party says security officials thwart its news conference

CAIRO (Reuters) - One of Sudan’s leading opposition parties said on Wednesday security services had prevented a news conference it planned for the afternoon, calling the move another “oppressive” government measure in the face of protests.

The Sudanese Congress Party had organised the event for its leader Omar Yousef al-Degair, who was jailed shortly after a wave of demonstrations against President Omar al-Bashir’s rule began in December. Degair was freed two days ago.

“In its last days, the regime is using all of its oppressive options to survive its inevitable fall,” the party said in a statement, adding the planned news conference in the capital Khartoum had been shut down by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

The government was lying and paying only lip service to respect for human rights, it said.

There is no official spokesman for the NISS and a spokesman for the Sudan’s ruling party was not immediately available for comment.

There have been near daily protests in Sudan since Dec. 19, a show of discontent that was initially sparked by rising bread prices but that has developed into the most sustained challenge Bashir has faced in his 30-year-rule.

The president announced a national state of emergency on Feb. 25 and fired state governors, replacing them with officials from the military and security services. The country has since also moved to establish emergency courts and prosecutors to try anyone who violates emergency rule.

Parliament was convened for a special meeting on Wednesday to approve Bashir’s emergency decree. According to Sudanese law, if parliament does not give its approval within two weeks of the declaration, the decision is void.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), which has been the main organiser of the protests, has called for more demonstrations on Thursday.

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Frances Kerry

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