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UN chief welcomes Sudanese decision to give amnesty to 5 sheikhs

(Xinhua)

10:16, August 30, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon hailed on Mondaythe Sudanese government's decision to grant amnesty to five sheikhs (community leaders) who were under the protection of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur ( UNAMID) since the outbreak of violence a year ago.

"The secretary-general welcomes the government of Sudan's decision to grant amnesty to five sheikhs (community leaders) who were sheltering at the UNAMID Community Policing Center in Kalma, South Darfur," said a statement released by Ban's spokesperson.

The five local leaders, or sheikhs, were granted amnesty on Saturday by the governor of South Darfur state ahead of this week' s Eid al-Fitr holiday in order to mark the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

The sheikhs, who returned to their homes on Monday were under the protection of UNAMID following an outbreak of violence in Kalma internally displaced persons camp in July of last year.

"The secretary-general is gratified that the sheikhs have, with the support of UNAMID, been reunited with their families in time to celebrate Eid al-Fitr," said the statement. "He urges community leaders and members of the camp to refrain from all acts of violence."

South Darfur authorities had demanded UNAMID to turn over the five sheikhs in connection with alleged crimes but the mission had declined to do so, saying that their obligations under its mandate to ensure that due process and the rights of individuals are upheld at all times.

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