, Khartoum, Sudan, Feb 27 – Sudan on Wednesday hit back at Western powers for calling President Omar al-Bashir’s decision to impose a nationwide state of emergency a “return to military rule” in the African country.
The United States, Britain, Norway and Canada had on Tuesday rebuked Sudan over the state of emergency.
“Those countries have no right to intervene in Sudan’s affairs,” Khartoum’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“In President Bashir’s measures they saw only the state of emergency but not his call for holding a dialogue,” the statement said.
“The state of emergency will not impact freedoms of people and their rights”.
Bashir declared the year-long state of emergency on Friday after a sweeping crackdown led by security agents failed to suppress more than two months of protests against his three decades in power.
The president also dissolved the federal and provincial governments and appointed 16 army officers and two officers from the feared National Intelligence and Security Service as provincial governors.
Bashir announced a slew of measures, including banning unauthorised demonstrations, and gave sweeping powers to security forces to carry out raids and search people.
“Allowing security forces to act with impunity will further erode human rights, governance and effective economic management” in Sudan, the four Western countries had said on Tuesday in a joint statement issued by their Khartoum diplomatic missions.
“The return to military rule does not create a conducive environment for a renewed political dialogue or credible elections.”
Sudan’s Vice President Awad Ibnouf claimed on Wednesday that the state of emergency was not linked to the protests.
“The state of emergency has nothing to do with the demonstrations as those who are demonstrating are Sudanese citizens,” he told reporters after a meeting with Bashir.
“The emergency is meant to curb smuggling that is destroying our economy,” Ibnouf said without elaborating.
Sudanese officials have regularly said that widespread smuggling of gold and other commodities has severely hit an already weak economy.
Deadly clashes surrounding protests have rocked Sudan for more than two months, with demonstrators taking to the streets since December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread.
The protests swiftly mushroomed into nationwide rallies against Bashir’s rule, with people calling on the veteran leader to step down.
Sudanese officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence so far, while Human Rights Watch says at least 51 have been killed, including medics and children.