On Monday (April 1st), President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir of Sudan ordered the release of all political prisoners. The President told the Sudanese Parliament: "I announce today my decision to release all political prisoners," adding, "I also renew a commitment to create a climate to hold a national dialogue with the other political forces." In a speech at the opening of parliament, President Al-Bashir said the government was committed to a "national dialogue" with all groups, adding that Sudan had now "guaranteed the atmosphere for freedoms and the safeguarding of the freedom of expression of individuals and groups".
He said the government would continue to communicate 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's comments came after Vice-President Ali Osman Taha last week invited opposition and rebel groups to help prepare a new constitution for the country. Last month, President Al-Bashir, who came to power in 1989, said he would step down at the next election in 2015, because Sudan needed "fresh blood".