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Sudan's president orders release of all political prisoners

Wednesday - 11/04/2018 09:10
Omar al-Bashir reported to be freeing those detained after unrest but details are unclear
Omar al-Bashir speaks to representatives of the ruling National Congress party on 2 April. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images
Omar al-Bashir speaks to representatives of the ruling National Congress party on 2 April. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, has ordered the release of “all political detainees” held in the country, state media said, weeks after mass arrests in a crackdown on anti-government protests.

Hundreds of opposition activists, leaders and protesters were arrested in January by security agents to curb demonstrations that erupted on the back of rising food prices, including bread.

“President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday issued a decree to release all political detainees held across the country,” the official Suna news agency reported.

“The decision aims to promote peace and harmony among all political parties in order to create a positive environment for achieving national goals,” it said.

The January arrests came after sporadic protests erupted in the capital Khartoum and some other towns of Sudan after the price of bread more than doubled.

Some activists were later freed but many remained in detention, including top opposition leaders Khaled Omar of the Sudanese Congress party and Mokhtar al-Khatib, the head of the Sudan Communist party.

Sina did not say how many prisoners would be set free and did not identify any of them.

The US and European embassies in Sudan had called for the release of all detainees, with Washington’s mission saying many were being held in inhumane conditions.

Sudanese authorities had cracked down on protesters in a bid to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013. At that time, dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed demonstrations, rights groups said.

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