March 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Gibril Ibrahim has welcomed government decision to release Prisoners of War (POWs) from Darfur armed movements, stressing that the decision should include all prisoners.
President Omer al-Bashir Wednesday issued a decree dropping death sentences against 66 convicts from Darfur rebel movements and pardoning 193 others. However, there were conflicting reports about the numbers of convicts who have actually been released.
In a statement to Sudan Tribune Sunday, Ibrahim said the government’s move “would help ease the atmosphere and create a climate conducive for dialogue and peace, but it is not yet complete”.
He pointed that a large number of prisoners from JEM and other movements have not been released, saying a significant number of JEM officers including two groups led by Ibrahim Almaz and Hamid Tuto groups are still in jail.
Also, Ibrahim mentioned that 7 other prisoners remain detained at Al-Huda Prison.
“It is important to empty jails from all prisoners and detainees in order to create a conducive environment for peace, however, burying the heads in the sand and criminalising people for politics reasons is unacceptable and will not work,” he said.
The rebel leader said the government was reciprocating a move taken by JEM last October when it released 264 prisoners and handed them over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“However, we say to them well done, and we need more efforts and positive steps until we reach peace,” he said.
Also, Gibril thanked the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for his efforts to achieve peace in Sudan, expecting the coming days would witness some moves to resume talks between the government and the armed movements.
He stressed that the release of prisoners from the government, JEM and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) sides was a product of unilateral initiatives and did result from direct talks or agreements.
“We don’t have any problem in sitting down and negotiating [with the government], and the release of the prisoners is part of the cessation of hostilities agreement and could lead to it,” he said.
The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.
JEM and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) led by Minni Minnawi are part of a process led by the African Union mediation to achieve a comprehensive solution, ending the armed conflicts in Darfur region and the Two Areas.
In their last meeting from 9 to 14 August 2016, the Sudanese government, JEM and SLM-MM discussed the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement and a humanitarian access agreement. The two deals are part of confidence building measures conceived by the mediation to pave the way for an inclusive national dialogue conference inside Sudan.
However, the parties diverged on the location sites of rebel fighters and mechanisms for the monitoring of humanitarian assistance. Also, the two groups raised the release of their prisoners from the Sudanese jails and the need to open the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) for discussions.