Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has responded to more than two months of protests against the regime (MEES, 22 February) by declaring a national state of emergency, restricting civil liberties and installing military figures to key government positions.

Al-Bashir announced a year-long state of emergency in a speech on 22 February designed, said a senior official in the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), to “address the chaos in economic affairs…fight corruption” and curb the “smuggling of gold.” The president dissolved the federal and provincial governments and appointed 18 new governors, 16 of them from the military establishment. The regime’s intent to use the measure to repress protests is in no doubt. On 25 February he issued decrees prohibiting unauthorized demonstrations and assembly, limiting press freedom and banning strikes. Security forces were given the right to search any building, restrict public movements, make arrests without charge and seize assets. Protestors have to date been undeterred: their numbers have increased in the past week. (CONTINUED - 218 WORDS)