Sudanese authorities are reportedly seizing copies of independent newspapers that are reporting on a three-day strike called by the opposition and activists. The ongoing strike, which began on 27 November, is in protest against fuel subsidy cuts and the rising cost of living in the country.
Members of National Intelligence and Security Service (Niss) raided the offices of Al-Tayar, Al-Jadida, Al-Ayyam and Al-Youm Al-Tali newspapers overnight without giving a reason, the staff was quoted by news agency AFP as saying.
"At 2:00 (23:00 GMT) an NISS officer came and ordered our printer to stop printing," said Al-Tayyar editor-in-chief Osman Mirgani. "He confiscated the entire print run without giving any reason."
On 27 November, Reuters reported Sudan had ordered the closure of Omdurman, and other private TV channels.
People 'cannot take it any more'
Opposition groups and activists called for a three-day "civil disobedience" on Sunday (27 November), which marks the start of the working week in the Muslim country.
The strike was prompted by the government's decision to increase petrol and diesel prices by 30% earlier this year. The move led to the rise in the cost of goods including medicines and public transport. This, coupled with a sharp fall of the Sudanese pound and US economic sanctions, is further weakening the country's economy.
"Sudan is one of the poorest country in the world and Sudanese people cannot take it any more. The economy is going down," Ahmed Abdelbasit, from the opposition Liberal Party, told IBTimes UK. "In Khartoum, most of the commercial shops are closed, the streets are empty and we can say the strike is completely succeeding in the capital."
Local and international media outlets claimed several streets and in the capital Khartoum and the city of Omdurman were deserted because of the strike. However, the government denied the allegations and condemned the strike.
Khalid Al-Mubarak, media attache at the Sudan embassy in London, told IBTimes UK the strike had failed after receiving receiving "the kiss of death when it was endorsed by Mr Yasir Arman of the SPLM-N [Sudan People's Liberation Movement – North] ." SPLM-N is now a banned political party and militant organisation in Sudan.
Both the spokesperson and the chair of SPLM-N office in the US told IBTimes UK that although the organisation did not endorse the strike, it "encouraged the resistance among the entire nation to reject and refuse oppression by the government."
Sudan has been progressively reducing fuel subsidy since 2011, when the country lost most of its oil fields due the breakaway of South Sudan.
Cuts on fuel and gas subsidies in 2013 sparked protests which resulted in the death of dozens of people. Activists said at least 200 people were killed, while the government put the death toll at less than 100.