Sudan presidential amnesty praised in view of peace talks
The African Union and political parties have continued to praise President Al Bashir's decision to drop the death penalties or release more than 250 rebels, as a move that may bridge the gap between the warring parties in case stalled peace talks advance.
Al Bashir decided to drop the death penalty for 66 defendants and give amnesty to 193 other defendants in a number of military battles that the country has witnessed over the past years, on 8 March. The members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) were released from Kober Prison in Khartoum on Thursday.
Opposition parties, including the National Umma Party, the Sudanese Communist Party, the Sudan Congress Party, and the Democratic Unionists told Radio Dabanga last week that they welcomed the positive impact the decision may bring to the peace process. Also the Darfur Bar Association of lawyers praised the release.
The association further requested the release of all political prisoners and detainees in Sudan. Lawyer Mohamed Abdallah El Doma, the chairman of the lawyers' association told Radio Dabanga that hostages cannot be tried. “Their release is a correction for something that has gone wrong in the judicial system.
“Prisons in Sudan still hold political detainees, whom should be released, so that an atmosphere that's feasible for the beginning of a new political action can grow.”
The decree pardoned 193 political prisoners in total, while reducing the sentences for 66 prisoners who were facing the death penalty. This was preceded by the release of more than 100 prisoners on 4 March by the SPLM-N.
'Many political prisoners remain'
The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) has welcomed the release and amnesty for the prisoners of war, but considers their trial as a breach of international humanitarian law.
Mubarak Ardol, a spokesman for the SPLM-N, said it is mainly defendants in the case of the battles in Omdurman and Goz Dungo who have received the presidential amnesty. Ardol pointed out that the convicts of the Ed Damazin and Sinja battles have not been mentioned. “Neither the politically motivated death sentences against our SPLM leaders have been dropped,” he told this station.
Jibril Ibrahim, leader of the JEM, expressed his happiness with the decision of Al Bashir last week, but pointed out that the presidential amnesty does not include other political detainees, such as prisoners of the rebel SPLM and SLM factions.
For this reason Ardol added that the release of prisoners will not change their position on the National Dialogue in Sudan, the dialogue that they are regularly urged to take part in by the Sudanese government and the international community, and will not accept the outcomes of these discussions.
Dlamini-Zuma urges the SPLM-N to not further delay and accept the humanitarian assistance proposal for the Two Areas
Also the chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Dr. Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma, welcomed the release and commutation of sentences. In a press statement she said to be cognisant of the fact that this release has been a critical sticking point in the negotiations between the Government of Sudan and the armed movements.
The next round of consultations with the warring parties, which are brokered by the AU High-level Implementation Panel, is aimed at breaking the impasse that has persisted since the last round of negotiations in August 2016. Dlamini-Zuma urged the SPLM-N, in particular, to make the necessary concessions and accept without any further delay proposal brokered by the USA for humanitarian assistance in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The agreement would provide the much-needed relief to the population and pave the way for the conclusion of a cessation of hostilities, the press statement went on.
The chairperson thanked the UN, the IGAD, and especially the Troika for its recent statement about the critical decisions that have to be made by the parties in order to support the work of the AU panel.
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