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Political prisoners freed under Sudan amnesty

First seven political detainees walk to freedom day after President Omar al-Bashir announced amnesty.

Last Modified: 02 Apr 2013 15:10
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Some of the prisoners had been held for months and in solitary confinement [AFP]

Sudanese authorities have freed the first seven political prisoners under a presidential amnesty, party officials have said.

The prisoners were freed on Tuesday a day after President Omar al-Bashir said all political prisoners would be released.

The six men and a woman are all members of the country's opposition political alliance, said Farouk Abu Issa, who heads the coalition of more than 20 parties.

Most had been held for nearly three months.

"It is a step forward but we are waiting for many other steps," Issa told the AFP news agency.

He said "hundreds" of prisoners across the country, including in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states where rebels have been fighting government forces for almost two years, were still in detention.

The six men walked free to the embrace of relatives waiting outside Kober Prison in the capital, Khartoum, an AFP photographer said.

The woman was released at a different location.

Issa accused authorities of holding some of the prisoners in solitary confinement, while three had been kept at security service detention centres, he said.

In a speech opening a new session of parliament on Monday, al-Bashir said all political prisoners would be freed as the government seeks a broad political dialogue, a move welcomed by the opposition as tensions ease with South Sudan.

"We confirm we will continue our communication with all political and social powers without excluding anyone, including those who are armed, for a national dialogue which will bring a solution to all the issues," Bashir said.

One of the liberated prisoners, Youssif al-Koda who heads the Islamic Centrist Party, told AFP he is ready for Bashir's dialogue if it is "serious."

"I didn't do anything against the constitution," Koda said through a translator.

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