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SPLM-N welcomes pardoning of Darfur POWs, calls for release of all prisoners

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Abdelaziz Ashr (C) greeted by some opposition figures after his release in Khartoum on 9 March 2017 (ST)

March 10, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) Friday has cautiously welcomed the government decision to pardon convicts from Darfur armed movements calling for the release of all detainees including its prisoners.

The Sudanese army has been fighting the SPLM-N in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, also known as the Two Areas since 2011and a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

Last week, SPLM-N released 125 Prisoners of War (POWs) and detainees from the Sudanese army.

President Omer al-Bashir Wednesday issued a decree dropping death sentences against 66 convicts from Darfur rebel movements and pardoning 193 others. On Thursday, Kober prison authorities in Khartoum-North released 259 POWs in implementation of the presidential pardon.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune Friday, SPLM-N peace file spokesperson Mubarak Ardol said prisoners from his movement were not included in the presidential pardon and “on top of them Brigadier Omer Fadl Tour Shain and those who have been tried in Ed-Damazin and Singa cases”.

“They [SPLM-N members] have not been detained in the battlefield and this is a clear violation of the international humanitarian law [also] the politically motivated death sentences against SPLM-N leaders were not cancelled,” he pointed out.

In March 2014, SPLM-N Chairman Malik Agar and Secretary-General Yasser Aman were handed the capital punishment along with 17 others in connection with the outbreak of the conflict with Khartoum in the Blue Nile state in September 2011. The same court sentenced 47 others to life in prison which was also upheld by the appeals court.

In October, President al-Bashir issued a decree dropping charges against 24 of them.
Ardol demanded to hold an investigation “in the killing of the POWs” and on top of them “Brigadier Ahmed Bahar Hagana who has been slaughtered inside the United Nations headquarters in Kadougli before the eyes of the UN soldiers”.

He called for the release of all prisoners from other armed movements including “Ibrahim Almaz, Mustafa Tamboor, al-Tom Hamid Tuto and others”.

HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE DELIVERY

Meanwhile, Ardol called on the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to deliver the humanitarian aid to the needy in the SPLM-N controlled areas through the same crossing points used for the POWs released by the Movement last week.

“The regime has no excuse to accept the use of the external crossing points to resolve one humanitarian issue while rejecting to use them for another,” he said
He urged the African Union (AU), IGAD countries, international community and the UN Security Council to support the PSLM-N position to deliver the humanitarian aid, stop the war, allow freedoms and release of all prisoners and convicts.

The AU has been seeking to end the conflict in the Two Areas for several years. However, last August, the two sides failed to sign a humanitarian cessation of hostilities agreement because Khartoum refuses to allow the delivery of food to civilians in some rebel-controlled areas in the Blue Nile State directly through Asosa, an Ethiopian Town near the border with Sudan.

In order to break the impasse on an agreement and facilitate humanitarian assistance, the United States last November has offered to deliver humanitarian medical assistance to the people in SPLM-N controlled areas.

However, the SPLM-N declined the American proposal and stuck to its demand for a humanitarian corridor through Asosa, to directly deliver 20% of the humanitarian aid to the civilians in the conflict-affected areas.

(ST)

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