March 5, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - 125 former Sudanese prisoners of war and detainees Sunday arrived in Khartoum after an official handover ceremony held in Kampala attended by the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) said all the 130 POWs and detainees will be released. However, on Sunday it said that they decided to keep three in jail for reasons that they cannot disclose now also the others preferred not to return to Khartoum.
The release of POWs and detainees was mediated by President Museveni. Also, the South Sudanese government authorised to transport the released persons from its territory Kampala.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which facilitated the operation said they "transported the released persons from two locations in South Sudan to Entebbe in Uganda and onward to Sudan, where they were handed over to government officials in Khartoum".
The former detainees were received at Khartoum airport by their families, Sudanese army and government officials. Also, a reception was organised at the Officers Club, near the airport for the families and the released persons.
In Khartoum, the government spokesperson Ahmed Balal said the humanitarian operation is the fruit of joint efforts exerted by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the foreign ministry.
Balal praised the "good gesture" by the SPLM-N and said that the government would respond by a similar move, without further details.
The Sudanese minister thanked the Ugandan President and his government for facilitating the operation pointing that it is a natural result of the improvement of bilateral ties.
In a statement issued on this occasion, the Sudanese foreign ministry called on the SPLM-N to sign a humanitarian cessation of hostilities to allow aid workers to reach deliver relief to civilians in the conflict-affected areas and in line with the U.S. humanitarian initiative.
The foreign ministry further called on the rebel group to turn the page of war and to engage in a political process under the outputs of the national dialogue conference held last October in Khartoum.
CALL TO RELEASE SPLM-N MEMBERS
In Kampala, the Ugandan President organised a reception for the released persons attended by Sudanese ambassador in Kamala, a delegation from the SPLM-N led by its Secretary General Yasir Arman, and ICRC representative.
In a speech delivered at this reception, Arman took the opportunity to renew their readiness to reach immediately an agreement on the humanitarian issues, calling to deliver the humanitarian aid to the needy in the SPLM-N controlled areas through the same crossing points used for the released persons.
He further reiterated the SPLM-N commitment to an inclusive process brokered by the African Union mediation and called on President Museveni, IGAD countries particularly Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan to support the efforts of the chief mediator President Thabo Mbeki in this respect.
The SPLM-N secretary-general called on the Sudanese government to release the SPLM-N members and fighters and POWs from other armed groups in Darfur region including the Justice and Equality Movement and Sudan Liberation Movement’s factions.
Talks between the government and SPLM-N for a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access are stalled since last August.
The SPLM-N demands to deliver 20% of the humanitarian assistance through a humanitarian corridor from Asosa, an Ethiopian border town.
In order to break the deadlock, the American administration proposed to deliver the medical humanitarian aid directly to the rebel areas.
But the SPLM-N says they want to discuss the matter with the new US special envoy and to have more guarantees on the transportation of sick and wounded people from the rebel areas to outside Sudan.