October 13, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – A rebel group operating in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains (SPLM-N) on Thursday handed over nine prisoners of war to Khartoum authorities in what is seen as a huge boost towards a final peace deal between rebels and government.
Speaking to reporters in Juba, Amar Amon, the SPLM-N Secretary General said they released those who they captured during fighting in Sudan’s South Kordofan region.
He explained that the nine prisoners of war were released on humanitarian grounds.
The Sudanese ambassador to Juba, Jamal Malik, welcomed the handover of the prisoners.
On Wednesday, the deputy head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo lauded the release of the prisoners who “illegally” entered the SPLN-N territory.
“We highly appreciate the response of the SPLM leadership in the north, to release the shepherds from detention and deport them to Juba, in preparation for their transfer to Khartoum. We also commend the families of the detainees who showed wisdom and patience throughout the period of detention of their children,” he said in a statement.
Dagalo, popularly referred to as Hemeti, reiterated calls for the holdout group to engage in the peace process, saying it as the “only viable option to guarantee peace and security”.
“On this occasion, we renew calls to the leaders of non-signatory movements to engage in the peace process in order to preserve the security and stability of our country,” he stressed.
The SPLM-N is one of the non-signatories of the Juba Peace Agreement, athough it signed a Declaration of Principles (DoP) to negotiate with the Khartoum government.
Since then, however, there have been no direct talks, albeit President Salva Kiir, his administration and the African Union have been trying to mediate between the sides.
In 2020, Sudan’s former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the SPLM-N faction leader, Abdel-Aziz Adam al-Hilu signed a DoP in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The declaration, among other provisions, recognised that “The state shall not establish an official religion and that No citizen shall be discriminated against based on their religion.”