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AU chairperson welcomes POWs release by Sudan and SPLM-N

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March 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The outgoing head of the African Union, Commission Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma, welcomed the recent release of prisoners of war by the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) saying it contribute to create a conducive environment for peace talks.

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Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission (Photo: Reuters)

On 8 March, The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir pardoned 259 prisoners from Darfur armed groups. The move was preceded by the release of 125 POWs from the Sudanese government army and militias by the (SPLM-N).

The two measures were unilaterally decided by the warring parties but are seen as positive steps towards a suitable atmosphere before the resumption of the stalled talks to end the armed conflicts in the Tow Areas and Darfur region.

Zuma "welcomes the release and commutation of sentences of political prisoners by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement- North (SPLM-N)," said a statement issued on Friday.

"She Chairperson is cognizant of fact that the release of political prisoners has been a critical sticking point in the negotiations between the Government and the armed movements. Therefore, she recognises that this positive development will go a long way to create a conducive environment which will further advance the peace process," further said the statement which was released on Saturday.

The AU chairman disclosed that the African Union chief mediator for Sudan talks, Thabo Mbeki plans to hold extensive consultations on Sudan’s peace process with the government and armed groups this month of March.

She further urged the SPLM-N to "to make the necessary concessions and accept without any further delay the US-brokered proposal for humanitarian assistance in the Two Areas" stressing the "proposal will provide the much-needed relief" for civilians in the rebel controlled areas.

Zuma further pointed that the U.S humanitarian proposal will "pave the way for the conclusion of a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement that has long been awaited by the people of Sudan".

The SPLM-N is under tense regional and international pressure to accept the American proposal but the Movement points for the need to add a safe corridor from the locked rebel-held areas to Ethiopia to allow them to evacuate the sick and wounded.

(ST)

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