Khartoum, 21 Jumadil Awwal 1434/1 April 2013 (MINA) – Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said on Monday (1/4) that he will release all political detainees, as tensions ease following recent agreements with South Sudan, Modern Ghana reported as monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).

“Today, we announce a decision to free all the political prisoners and renew our commitment to all political powers about dialogue,” Bashir said in a speech opening a new session of parliament.

It was not immediately clear how many prisoners would be released under the announcement.

“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,” the president said.

The media reported his statement elaborated on an offer made last week by Vice President Ali Osman Taha, who reached out to guerrillas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states as well as to opposition political parties, whom he invited to join a constitutional dialogue.

The alliance of opposition parties and the opposition movement Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rejected the vice president’s call.

While BBC report, Bashir’s announcement was welcomed by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which said it hoped it would lead to an end to arbitrary detentions and torture under Sudan’s strict national security laws.

“There is a chronic pattern of human rights abuse in Sudan,” said HRW’s Sudan researcher Jehanne Henry.

She said the organisation heard of cases every month where “people perceived to have political opinions not in keeping with those of the government” were detained.

Sudan has been facing a heightened security situation since South Sudan became independent in 2011. Tension between the new neighbours has been strained, with oppositon govement  breaking out on either side of the border and a dispute over oil which escalated to the brink of war in April.

However, in September the leaders of both nations signed a deal, mediated by the African Union, to resume oil sales and set up a demilitarised buffer zone.

Last month, Mr Bashir, who came to power in a coup in 1989, said he would step down at the next election in 2015 because Sudan needed “fresh blood”.(T/P09/P03)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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