The Sudanese authorities on Thursday, 4th July released 235 prisoners of war from two rebel groups captured during different clashes with pro-government forces in Darfur, western Sudan.
The released prisoners are affiliated to the Sudan Liberation Army Movement (SLAM) headed by Arcua Minni Minnawi, and the “Liberation Movement Transitional Council”. Both armies have engaged in the war in Darfur against ousted General Omar Al-Bashir since 2003, according to chief of the Transitional Military Council’s Security Committee Lieutenant-General Jamal Omar.
The prisoners were released at by Lieutenant-General Abdufattah Al-Burhan to grant general amnesty to the prisoners from the two movements.
Lieutenant-General Jamal Omar said the release of prisoners was an act of good faith towards militias in order to create an environment for negotiation and completion of the peace process.
In his address upon releasing the prisoners from Al-Huda prison in the city of Umm Durman, west of the capital Khartoum, Lieutenant-General Omar called on armed rebel movements to return to Sudan. He invited them to contribute to rebuilding a country for justice and development now political changes have been made, adding that the release of prisoners is a good opportunity for them to return to peacetime activities.
Al-Nazir Nemr, a released prisoner, expressed delight at regaining his freedom following two years in a detention centre in Khartoum after he was transferred from Darfur.
Al-Nazir added that he still supported the cause for which he fought the central government. However now that the Omar Al-Bashir regime has been ousted and that freedom, justice and equality have been established, the means of struggle for his cause will be different.
Al-Nazir went on to say: “We seek to establish a one-country nation and democratic rule, and to bring totalitarianism to an end., We hope to eliminate the injustice against which we took up arms and fought against the Bashir government until I was imprisoned on May 25th 2017 in Darfur.”
The rebellion erupted in Darfur in 2003 when groups of Sudanese of African descent took up arms against the Al-Bashir government to end what they called political marginalisation. Some groups defected from the movement and signed peace agreements with the Al-Bashir regime, while other active groups continue to fight.
A representative of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), a movement incorporating both armed and civil forces, al-Toum Hago, said that releasing prisoners is a positive step by the Transitional Military Council as it enhances negotiations to end the war and achieve peace in the country.
In a statement to 7Dnews, Hago said: “We have received a positive response from the Transitional Military Council (TMC). Releasing the prisoners is a big step that must encourage the revolutionary front to continue serious negotiations, and now the climate seems conducive to ending the war.”
Hago added, “We are seeking peace negotiations that are free of political tactics and manoeuvres unlike the situation under the ousted president’s regime. We call upon political leaders to learn from past experience and to work towards fulfilling the people’s aspirations without resulting in bloodshed. The peace process should be given top priority.”
Retired General Khalil Mohamed Al-Sadeq said that the releasing of a number of prisoners must reflect the TMC’s open attitude towards armed movements and its willingness to create the conditions for ending the ongoing war in Darfur as well as in Kurdfan and the southern Blue Nile regions.
Al-Sadeq, in a statement to 7Dnews, added that "In most cases, prisoners are exchanged with captured opponents, but the TMC has done more than that in order to achieve peace. The Council may also have received guarantees from those movements to release pro-government prisoners in return."
On 25th June, Lieutenant-General Abdufattah Al-Burhan issued a Republican decree to set up a higher committee to hold talks with armed movements to reach agreement and achieve peace.
The committee is chaired by the deputy commander of the Military Council Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ Dagolo who revealed that the council had made contact with armed movements with the aim of ending the war and achieving peace.