Sudan stops opposition leaders travelling to France

Sudan_-_Location_Map_(2011)_-_SDN_-_UNOCHA.svgSudanese security agents prevented seven senior opposition figures from travelling to a European parliament meeting in France and confiscated their passports on Monday, one of the politicians affected said.

The group had been invited to attend the meeting in Strasbourg but were stopped at Khartoum airport early on Monday as they tried to board a flight to Istanbul.

“The National Intelligence and Security Services prevented seven leaders from the Sudan Call force from travelling to France on Monday to take part in dialogue with parliamentary blocs” in Strasbourg, said Mariam al-Mahdi, deputy head of the opposition Umma Party.

“Our passports were confiscated and our luggage was unloaded from the plane,” Mahdi said at a press conference.

All seven lawmakers belong to the Sudan Call alliance, which groups together rebels, political parties and civil society organisations opposed to the rule of President Omar al-Bashir.

Besides Mahdi, those prevented from travelling were another deputy head of the Umma Party, Abdullah al-Duma, the Communist Party’s Siddig Youssef and Tariq Abdel Majid, civil society activist Muheid Sadiq and Fathi Nouri from the National Consensus Forces grouping.

Two signatories to the Sudan Call, Farouk Abu Issa and Amin Makki Madani were arrested in December after joining the alliance.

They were held for nearly four months before being released.

Rights groups have accused Bashir of cracking down on the media and civil society groups since elections in April.

Most opposition groups, including Sudan Call, boycotted the polls, which Bashir won with more than 94 percent of the vote.

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