TITLE=SUDAN PARDONS (L-O)
INTRO: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has pardoned
20 prisoners, including two Roman-Catholic priests,
charged with a series of bombings. But Middle East
Correspondent Scott Bobb reports the pardon is causing
concern among some Sudanese church leaders.
TEXT: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir issued the
pardon before television cameras, after the priests
asked for forgiveness.
/// BASHIR ACT - IN ARABIC - FADE UNDER ///
President Bashir said he had decided to grant the
pardon, as requested by the accused, in the spirit of
an agreement signed last month in Djibouti.
The Sudanese president was referring to a
controversial agreement signed with one of the major
exiled opposition leaders, former Prime Minister Sadiq
al-Mahdi. The agreement outlines a program to bring
peace after decades of civil war, but most other
exiled dissidents have rejected the Djibouti accord.
/// OPT /// News agencies say the two priests and 18
civilian prisoners were to be released Tuesday. ///
END OPT ///
Sudanese news media broadcast remarks by one of the
priests, Hilary Boma, expressing gratitude to the
/// BOMA ACT - IN ARABIC - FADE UNDER ///
Father Boma thanked the Sudanese president on behalf
of the Sudanese people. He said the pardon is in the
path of peace and human rights.
The prisoners were accused of involvement in a series
of bombings 18-months ago in Khartoum to mark the
ninth anniversary of the coup that brought President
Bashir to power. They faced the death penalty if
Catholic officials reportedly were concerned that the
priest's request for a pardon would constitute an
admission of guilt. Last December, the Vatican news
service reported that Father Boma signed a confession
to stop the torture of a colleague before his eyes.
/// REST OPT ///
Sudanese government officials in recent months have
met with a number of exiled dissidents, seeking to
encourage them to return home. The government
legalized opposition parties in anticipation of
parliamentary elections next year.
The moves have attracted some opposition leaders, but
have drawn an angry rejection from others. They say
the government intends to control the outcome of the
vote by restricting which parties are allowed to
07-Dec-1999 12:20 PM EDT (07-Dec-1999 1720 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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