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Sudanese politicians slam government move to ban reporting on disputed dam

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by Sharjah newspaper Al-Khalij website on 26 June

    Political forces in Sudan have denounced a ban on reporting on the Kajbar dam in newspapers, describing it as an attempt by the government to hide the facts, thus making the Sudanese vulnerable to rumours in a way that causes considerable damages later on.

    Ali Mahmud Hasanayn, the deputy chairman of the Democratic Unionist Party, told Al-Khalij that the government wants to get its business done in the dark and to hit the Sudanese people in the dark in the absence of the media. "This provides the most eloquent proof of the regime's collapse and that its death knell is near," he said.

    A member of the political bureau of Al-Ummah Party, Salah Ibrahim Ahmad, who is from the Nubia region in northern Sudan, where large tracts will be submerged after the construction of the Kajbar Dam reservoir, told Al-Khalij "banning publication of news of the dam will not serve the people in any way, and does not enable justice to get access to information in an integrated way". He said that he has not heard of any government that bars publication of reports about an issue still under investigation, adding that this kind of a ban is possible only after the investigations are completed and the matter is referred to the judiciary.

    In this event, a court may bar the publication of external comments but still allows the publication of proceedings at the hearings. He said the government was abusing its powers and has formed a committee that is not neutral which has banned publication. He said that committee was formed under the Law of Investigations for 1954, and this means it wants to hide the facts. He considered Kajbar at present as "Darfur without weapons", adding that the people will not carry arms against the government but they will certainly enter into confrontations with it in a peaceful manner.

    A member of the Committee for Combating Kajbar, Abd-al-Halim Muhammad Salih, said that there have been proposals in the past to construct three dams in Ethiopia with participation from the state itself, Sudan, and Egypt, the aim being to exploit hydroelectric power because these dams can generate many times the electricity that can be produced from the dams constructed in Sudan or elsewhere. But this was not pursued, even though no one at all in Ethiopia would have been affected by submersion because the dams would have been constructed in tortuous and uninhabited regions.

    So it can be said now that the dams the government wants to construct are contrived in order to drive the Nubians and Al-Manasir [tribe near the Merowe Dam] out of their lands and not for development.

    He said the government was trying to delude the people by saying these dams were for development but they were not so in fact because development, as long as it is considered to seek improvements in the lives of people, should be carried out in transparency and the people should be involved in it. This is not what has happened, he said.

    Source: Al-Khalij website, Sharjah, in Arabic 26 Jun 07

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