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Sudanese Journalists have Formed the Country’s First Independent Union

Abdulmoniem Abu Idrees, 58, Khartoum correspondent for the Agence France-Presse news agency, was elected the union’s first president in a vote on Sunday. “It’s historic,” he said. “It will be a notable day for the unions, a day in which we exercise our democracy under a military rule and despite all the manacles that prevent[ed] us from doing so. I believe that other professions will follow suit.” The last independent journalists’ union was dissolved in 1989 when Omar al-Bashir came to power. Under Bashir, journalists experienced imprisonment and torture. Hundreds were arrested, some spending years behind bars for covering stories the government didn’t like. n 2016, an unofficial alliance of doctors, lawyers, journalists and teachers formed the Sudanese Professionals Association to campaign for rights. It played a prominent role in demonstrations that led to the ousting of Bashir in 2019 and the formation of a transitional, civilian-led government. Journalists enjoyed a margin of freedom under the new government, but since the army seized power in a coup in October 2021, journalists have been threatened and arrested, including prominent journalist Fayez Seleik.