Sudanese leader of Al-Jazeera jailed as army expands powers

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The head of Al-Jazeera’s office in Sudan has been jailed by the country’s security forces, the Qatar-based television station said on Monday, which has widely covered the army’s takeover.

Al-Jazeera journalist El Musalami El Kabbashi, a Sudanese national, was arrested at his home on Sunday, the latest of around 100 arrests since a military coup three weeks ago.

On October 25, Sudan’s chief general Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan declared a state of emergency, overthrew the government and detained the civilian leaders.

The army’s seizure of power derailed a transition to full-fledged civilian rule, drew international condemnation and sparked regular protests.

Al-Burhan insists that the military decision on October 25 “was not a coup” but a push to “rectify the course of the transition.”

Al-Jazeera, who declared “to hold the Sudanese military authority responsible for the safety of all its employees”, denounced the detention of El Kabbashi, saying that “the prosecution ordered his release”.

Al-Jazeera has given extensive coverage to the recent protests, but also aired a detailed interview with al-Burhan.

Media other than Al-Jazeera have also been targeted. Before the coup, Sudan was already ranked 159th out of 180 countries in the world press freedom ranking by the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders.

This is not the first time that court decisions have been ignored by the coup authorities.

Sudan continued to remain largely offline even after a court ruled last week that internet services must be restored. Judges also ordered the release of detainees arrested during nationwide rallies against the coup on Saturday, but “police took them to an unknown location,” lawyer Enaam Attik told Agence France-Presse. (AFP).

Earlier Monday, medics said the death toll in the weekend’s protests had risen to eight, bringing the total death toll since last month’s military takeover to 23.

The union named the eight people killed, including a 13-year-old girl who it said was “shot in the head in front of her home”.

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee is in Sudan until Tuesday to demand “the release of Sudanese political and civilian leaders, the return to power of Prime Minister Hamdok and the reestablishment of a transitional government led by civilians ”.

Sudan has a long history of military coups, enjoying only rare interludes of democratic rule since independence in 1956.

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