Top Sudan opposition figure freed after jailing over protest

Published March 14, 2019, 12:45 AM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Agence France-Presse

A Sudanese appeals court on Wednesday ordered the release of a senior opposition politician after she was jailed for taking part in protests against President Omar al-Bashir’s rule, her family said.

Mariam al-Mahdi, the daughter of former Sudanese prime minister Sadiq al- Mahdi (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
Mariam al-Mahdi, the daughter of former Sudanese prime minister Sadiq al- Mahdi (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Mariam al-Mahdi, deputy chief of the country’s main opposition Umma Party, had been sentenced to jail for a week on Sunday by an emergency court after security agents arrested her while she was taking part in a march against Bashir’s rule.

She was arrested outside her party office in Omdurman, the twin city of the capital, as police broke up the march called by protest organizers to challenge a nationwide state of emergency imposed by Bashir on February 22.

“The appeals court freed Mariam and she is now at home,” her sister Rabah told AFP.

Mariam’s lawyer Ubada Abdelrahman also confirmed the release of the opposition figure.

Mariam and Rabah, the two daughters of Umma Party chief and former premier Sadiq al-Mahdi, have participated in protests after their father threw his weight behind the movement.

Bashir swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989 after toppling Mahdi’s government.

Bashir’s three-decade rule has been rocked by nationwide protests since December, and the veteran leader has ordered a slew of tough measures to quell the demonstrations.

He has imposed a state of emergency across the country, banned all unauthorized rallies and set up the emergency courts to probe violations.

Protests initially broke out on December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread amid a broader economic crisis in the country.

They soon escalated to nationwide rallies against Bashir’s administration.

But since the state of emergency came into effect the scale and intensity of the rallies have shrunk.

Officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence so far, while Human Rights Watch says the death toll is at least 51 and includes medics and children.