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Sudanese opposition leader's daughter jailed over protests

Mariam al-Mahdi says she will spend total of three weeks in jail after refusing to pay 2,000 Sudanese pound fine
Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi is deputy head of opposition Umma Party and daughter of its leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi (AFP/file photo)

The deputy head of Sudan's opposition Umma Party was sentenced to a week in prison on Sunday for demonstrating against the president, a party official and a lawyer said, as activists protested against emergency laws imposed last month.

President Omar al-Bashir declared the state of emergency on 22 February after weeks of demonstrations, the most sustained challenge to his rule since he came to power in a coup in 1989.

Protests initially broke out on 19 December after a government decision to triple the price of bread, amid a broader economic crisis in the country. The demonstrations have since escalated to nationwide rallies against Bashir.

Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi, also a daughter of Umma leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, was among 16 people detained while demonstrating in front of Umma's headquarters in Omdurman, across the Nile from the capital Khartoum, defence lawyer Khalafallah Hussein was cited by Reuters as saying.

The emergency court also fined her 2,000 Sudanese pounds ($42) for participating in the protest, which called on Bashir to step down, said Mohamed al-Mahdi Hassan, head of the party's political bureau.

Still, Mariam al-Mahdi said she will spend a total of three weeks in jail after refusing to pay the fine, AFP reported. "Goodbye, I have decided not to pay the fine, so see you after three weeks," she wrote on her Facebook page.

After her sentencing, Mariam al-Mahdi was taken to a women's prison in Omdurman.

Another of Sadiq al-Mahdi's daughters, Rabah, was also arrested and fined 500 pounds, according to Hussein.

Nine Sudanese women protesters sentenced to 20 lashes, one month in jail
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The latest sentences come a day after another emergency court in Khartoum sentenced nine women to 20 lashes and a month in prison for joining protests.

The rulings by emergency courts were made despite Bashir on Friday ordering the release of all women detainees held during demonstrations.

On Sunday afternoon, hundreds took to the streets in different areas of Omdurman to protest against the emergency laws. Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse them.

The measures include an expansion of powers for the security services and a ban on unlicensed public gatherings. More than 800 people have been tried in the emergency courts, according to the Democratic Alliance of Lawyers, an opposition group.

Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi was also briefly arrested at the end of January in connection with the protests.

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.