Popular Sudanese television channel ordered to close


Sudan has ordered the closure of Omdurman, a popular private television channel, its owner said, amid a government crackdown on dissent against new austerity measures.

One of a handful of independent television channels, Omdurman was notified it would have to cease broadcasting because it did not have a proper permit, the channel’s owner Hussein Khogali told Reuters.
“This is not true because we’ve worked legally non-stop for the past six years,” Khogali said.

The channel recently included coverage critical of government austerity measures.
“The purpose of pulling the channel off the air is to silence dissent and we will take all legal steps possible to protect our rights,” he said.

Sudan’s economy has struggled since South Sudan seceded in 2011, taking with it three quarters of the country’s oil output, a key source of foreign currency and government revenue.

In a bid to cut government spending, Sudan announced austerity measures earlier this month including reducing fuel and electricity subsidies as well as imposing restrictions on certain imports.

Khartoum and other cities have since seen a number of small but rare protest demonstrations amid rising prices and a black market rate for dollars which last week reached an unprecedented 18 pounds to the dollar, significantly weaker than the official rate of 6.4 government has kept in place since August 2015.

Last week security forces arrested four prominent opposition figures including veteran politician Sadiq Youssef, a leader of the largest political coalition opposed to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

On Sunday opposition parties and activists called for a strike in Khartoum to protest against the recent economic decisions, but participation was low.