SUDAN says it is withdrawing official censorship of the media, writes Dennis Itumbi for

No less an authority than President Omar al-Bashir has announced an end to state censorship of the media.

In a decree announced Sunday, Bashir put an end to a system where two censors examine newspapers before publication and sometimes remove articles they deem inappropriate or sensitive.

The censors, mostly state agents, must receive copies of a newspaper two hours ahead of publication and within a set deadline – a move that has often led to publication being delayed.

The practice had persisted despite guarantees of a free press in Sudan's constitution.

However journalists. most of whom requested not to be named at this point, are cautious about the new move: "You see when you have  President who proudly admits he has been sponsoring censorship and revokes it at will, you never know what he will do tomorrow."

The view is shared by Maaz Alughomi, a newspaper editor in Khartoum, who told that " censorship in Sudan is not only about the censors its about tapping of our phones, monitoring of our movements and difficult access to news. Unless that is (attended to), we are not yet there."

He added, "this is public relations so let's watch, but I dont feel like the load is finally lifted."

Newspaper editors had earlier signed a new journalistic "ethics code."  Reuters news agency reports the editors promised to be fair in their reporting, to respect religious and racial differences, and to obey the law.

Sudanese newspapers had sought an end to censorship ahead of national elections scheduled for next April.

The elections are a key part of the 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan's north-south civil war.