A leading member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) told VOA a banned independent newspaper violated the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between his party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
Rabie Abdulatti Obeid said the newspaper published articles advocating the semi-autonomous south Sudan’s secession which he said is contrary to stipulations of the peace accord.
“One of the major reasons for stoppage of these newspapers, on top of them Al Intibaha newspaper, that (they were) use(d) to promote cessation between north and south, and not encouraging the unity between south and north. They think that the unity between south and north is joining between two contradictions,” he said.
He also said articles published by the newspaper often stated that, while the north favors the full implementation of Sharia Law, the SPLM wants secularism in both the north and the south.
The CPA calls on both the NCP and the SPLM to work closely together to make “unity attractive” ahead of next year’s scheduled referendum.
The referendum will allow residents in the semi-autonomous south Sudan to decide whether to be part of the original Sudan or secede and become an independent nation.
Analysts, as well as senior officials of the government of Southern Sudan, have said that it is unlikely residents in the south will choose to be part of the original Sudan.
But, NCP official Obeid said President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir’s administration is committed to Sudan’s unity.
“The government believes that the promotion of secession between north and south will not help (in) achieving (Sudan’s) unity in the coming referendum, which will be conducted in the beginning (of) 2011,” Obeid said.
Local media reports that Sudan’s intelligence services Tuesday re-imposed press censorship ahead of south Sudan’s January referendum.
The distribution of three newspapers, including Al-Intibaha, Al-Tayyar and Al-Ahdath, has reportedly been stopped after they were accused of being critical of south Sudan’s government.
Critics say President Bashir’s government is clamping down on dissenting views, which they argue flouts Sudan’s constitution.
But, NCP official Obeid said the ruling party is simply upholding the provisions of the CPA.
“Actually, (free speech) is allowed according to the constitution and according to law but, according to the CPA, there is nothing called absolute freedom whenever you exceed the limit of freedom which will harm the people of Sudan and the unity of Sudan,” Obeid said.
He further said that the government will soon launch “a very strong campaign” with the sole aim of achieving unity between the north and the south in the upcoming referendum.