Sudanese authorities have rejected permission for an International Women's Day event in Khartoum, despite President Omar al-Bashir's vow that freedoms should be respected.
The women in the capital were told on Sunday that they needed additional authorisation from a government commission handling voluntary activities but that was just a delaying tactic, said Fahima Hashim, director of the Salam Centre for women's rights.
"We didn't get the permission" from state security agents for Saturday's planned event, she said.
The March 8 event - marked around the world when women are recognised for their achievements - had been held without incident for the past eight years at Khartoum's Nubian Club, Hashim told AFP.
Hashim said it was unclear why approval was denied, but it might be connected with the larger size of this year's event.
"We had more than 30 groups joining us," she said.
The day-long event typically features exhibitions, forums, films and concludes with a party.
In January, al-Bashir appealed for a political and economic "renaissance", including political freedom, in the country ravaged by armed insurrection and political turmoil.
Hashim said his renaissance was just "a lot of talk."
Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said that Sudanese women "can do whatever they like but some... want to make some problems out of nothing."
He said Sudan is more progressive than other countries in the region, with women occupying about 25 percent of political posts.
"The ladies in Sudan, they have got big rights," the minister said.