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Thousands protest as Sudan officials promise cash

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm •  Published: September 29, 2013
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Several dailies came under pressure to depict demonstrators as "saboteurs." The government also closed the offices of Gulf-based satellite networks Al-Arabiya and Sky News Arabia. Several newspapers were ordered to stop publication while others stopped voluntarily to avoid government pressure.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya Sunday, Sudan's Foreign Minister defended the move, saying "media make revolutions."

"If the revolution is created by media, we have to be serious in dealing with it," he said from New York, where he was attending the United Nations General Assembly.

Diaa Eddin Belal, editor-in-chief of al-Sudani newspaper, told the AP that editions of his paper were confiscated and they were ordered to stop printing three times since Wednesday. Back to work on Sunday, Belal said that in one incident on Friday the papers had been on their way to distribution centers when he received a phone call from police telling him that there would be no papers that day.

"The government feels that it is own existence is endangered and the press is playing a role in influencing public opinion ... they want papers to turn into official gazettes that reflect only (the government's) point of view with no criticism or negative feedback," he said.

In a move aimed at pacifying a frustrated public, the government said Sunday it would distribute one-off payments to families in need, raise the minimum wage and boost public sector salaries.

The official SUNA news agency reported that Minister of Social Solidarity Mashair al-Dawlab ordered a half million families to be given 150-Sudanese-pound ($21 by local exchange rate) aid packages in early October. It also quoted the deputy finance minister as saying the public sector salary increases would start at the same time.

Meanwhile, Sudan's main labor union said a hike in minimum wages promised since January would be implemented in the coming two days.

Still worried of lingering protests however, the Education Ministry said on Sunday that schools will remain closed until Oct. 20. Schools were closed since Wednesday after high school students led protests in different districts in the capital chanting against al-Bashir.