Sudan’s military shutters Jazeera bureau

Khartoum: Sudanese authorities on Thursday shut down news broadcaster Al Jazeera’s Khartoum office, as thousands of protesters gathered outside the country’s military headquarters to pressure the ruling generals to cede power.
The sprawling military complex has become the focal point of the weeks-long protest movement, which is calling for the country’s Transitional Military Council to hand over power to civilians, following the ousting of longtime autocrat President Omar al Bashir in April.
Late on Thursday, the Qatari television channel said its bureau was abruptly shut down and its journalists banned from reporting in the country with immediate effect, without being given a reason.
“They told us that the military council had decided to close the Al Jazeera network’s office and withdraw its licence,” bureau director Al Musallami Al Kabbashi said. The news channel, which regularly broadcasts footage of the demonstrations in Sudan, is funded by Doha, a close ally of former president Bashir.
“The Network sees this as an attack on media freedom, professional journalism, and the basic tenets of the right for people to know and understand the reality of what is happening in Sudan,” Al Jazeera said in a statement published online.
Meanwhile, the military council said incidents on the margins of the protest site were threatening public safety. “In the face of those developments that threaten public security and safety,” authorities would “work in accordance with the law to guarantee citizens’ safety and to resolve manifestations of insecurity and lawlessness,” it said in a statement.
Chanting slogans in favour of a civilian government, singing and waving Sudanese flags, the mostly young protesters gathered after dusk on Thursday to join the demonstration. “We’re here to confirm our basic demand for a civilian authority in the transitional period until we can guarantee a real democratic transition,” said Mohamed Hasan, a young protester outside the military headquarters.
The Alliance for Freedom and Change protest movement had called for people to gather at the site on Thursday for a “million-strong march”.
“The goals of our revolution will be reached by peacefulness and not by violence,” Wajdi Saleh, a spokesman for the protest group, said as he addressed the crowd.
 — AFP