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Political detainees to be released ahead of Sudan dialogue

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August 31, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The mechanism for Sudan’s national dialogue known as the (7+7) committee has formed six subcommittees to spearhead the process, also announcing the possible release of political detainees.

After a call in January for the national dialogue on peace and constitutional reforms, president Omer al-Bashir issued a number of decrees on 9 April allowing greater freedom for political parties and vowing to release all political detainees not implicated in criminal acts.

However, in May the security apparatus arrested a fervent defender of the dialogue process and leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq al-Mahdi for criticising the role of government militias in the country’s war zones.

Also the head of the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP), Ibrahim al-Sheikh, has been arrested since June for the same reason. In August, NUP deputy leader Mariam al-Mahdi was also arrested for participating in talks with rebel groups.

Speaking after a meeting of the dialogue mechanism, information minister Ahmed Bilal, who co-chairs the 7+7 information subcommittee, told reporters that a number of measures will be announced soon in order to create a conducive environment in the country before the commencement of the internal process.

Bilal added that the mechanism formed a subcommittee headed by Hassan Osman Rizk, a member of the opposition Reform Now Movement (RNM), and Aboud Jaber of the ruling party to prepare a list of the detained politicians and journalists.

He added the matter will be discussed next Sunday and then submitted to president Bashir.

However, the minister denied the existence of political prisoners in the country saying “those who are being detained are held on criminal charges”.

Regarding Marriam al-Mahdi, he stressed she has been arrested on criminal charges. But “we are now working on measures to create a suitable climate,” he added.

The NUP leading member is accused of “subversive activities” after meetings with rebel groups over the Paris Declaration on peace and democratic transition in Sudan.

Fadel Alseed Shuaib, 7+7 member and leader of the Truth Party, spoke to reporters about the composition of the other subcommittees agreed in Sunday’s meeting.

According to Shuaib, the external liaison subcommittee is co-chaired by the RNM president Ghazi Salah alDin Attabani and cabinet minister DUP member Ahmed Saad Omer who is also Darfurian.

The internal liaison subcommittee is headed by presidential assistant and leader of Beja party Musa Mohamed Ahmed and Mustafa Ahmed Mahmoud of the Socialist Nasirsit Party.

Comprehensive dialogue subcommittee will be co-headed by Kamal Omer of the Popular Congress Party and Ahmed Babikir Nahar of the Umma Federal Party.

Presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour and Ahmed Abu al-Gassim Hashim, secretary-general of the Alliance of People’s Working Forces, will chair the subcommittee of social dialogue.

(ST)

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