Security agents confiscated the Monday edition of Sudan’s most widely read newspaper after it blasted plans by the ruling party to end fuel subsidies, the paper’s chairman, who wrote the critical column, said.
Eltayeb Mustafa, who also is a relative of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, surprised readers on Monday by writing in an editorial that the government was “playing with fire” with its plan to lift fuel subsidies.
“They banned the (Monday) edition because of my column,” Eltayeb said, adding that security agents arrived at the paper’s printing house late on Sunday and confiscated the entire Monday edition, Reuters reports.
The National Press Council, which is in charge of licensing newspapers, could not be immediately for comment.
Journalists have complained of rising pressure since the politically sensitive secession of South Sudan in July, but the seizure of the al-Intibaha newspaper was unusual because it often takes a hardline, largely pro-government stance.
Security agents have closed several independent or opposition newspapers or confiscated entire editions in the past few months to stop them tackling sensitive issues such as the economic crisis Sudan, editors say.
Bashir’s National Congress party (NCP) unveiled plans last week to cancel fuel subsidies as officials scramble to plug a ballooning budget deficit after the country lost much of its oil wealth when arch foe South Sudan became independent in July.
Sudan has avoided a popular uprising like Syria or Egypt but public anger over high food inflation has led to small protests. Ending fuel subsidies would hit many people already tired after years of U.S. sanctions, poverty and conflict.