Ed Daein / Khartoum — On Friday, 14 Maaliya and Rizeigat omdas were released from Port Sudan jails and the Kober Prison in Khartoum North.
After government forces managed to contain fierce clashes between the Maaliya and Rizeigat in East Darfur's Muhajiriya in mid July, the authorities opted for an unprecedented detention campaign against dozens of leaders from both tribes.
On 31 July, a special East Darfur court sentenced 22 Rizeigat and Maaliya omdas and 73 other tribesmen to prison terms between three to six months. They were imprisoned in Khartoum and Port Sudan to prevent attempts by their fellow tribesmen to release them.
El Azrag Hasan Humeida, Head of the Maaliya Youth Organisation, told Radio Dabanga that 13 Rizeigat and Maaliya omdas were released in Port Sudan, and the Maaliya deputy-nazir in Khartoum North.
He pointed out that there are still three Maaliya omdas and 30 other tribesmen being held in Port Sudan, and 10 omdas and 34 other tribesmen in Kober Prison.
For his part, Rizeigat leader Mohamed Eisa Aliyu reported that nine Rizeigat omdas were freed from Port Sudan prisons on Friday. He expected the release of the rest of the detained Rizeigat omdas from both Kober and Port Sudan prisons to happen soon.
Aliyu said that the aim of the authorities' release of the omdas in batches is to rate reactions of the tribesmen. He appealed to his fellow tribesmen "to receive the released omdas in a quiet way so as not to disrupt the release of the rest".
Humeida told this station on 24 October that 89 tribal leaders were being held "without trial or charge" since their arrest in East Darfur.
In a press statement on Saturday, the Darfur Bar Association (DBA) points to "the importance of the role of these leaders in keeping security and peace" in East Darfur, and welcomed the release of the 14 native administration leaders.
The DBA further urged the release of 23 Rizeigat omdas held in Kober and Port Sudan, three omdas and 30 other local leaders of the Maaliya in Kober, as well as 37 omdas and local leaders of the East Darfuri El Birgid tribe.
The El Birgid native administration members were detained a few days after the arrest of the others, for hitherto unclear reasons. They are still being held in El Hoda Prison in Omdurman.
The Darfur lawyers denounced the arrests without charges, and called the detention a sign of weakness from the authorities.
Rumours say that the Sudanese authorities decided to arrest the East Darfuri native administration members to restrain their protests against the disarmament campaign in the region that would commence in August.