Sudan’s ruling military pledged to release all imprisoned anti-government rebels as a step toward talks to end long-running insurgencies in Darfur and the country’s south.

Mohamed Hamdan, deputy leader of the Transitional Military Council, announced the plan late Monday in an address to supporters. The government of Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown by the army in April, had faced rebellions in the western region of Darfur as well as in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Hamdan, who himself heads the Rapid Support Forces, a notorious militia with roots in the Janjaweed group that terrorized Darfur during the conflict that began in 2003, didn’t say how many fighters would be freed. Officials from one exiled rebel group who made a groundbreaking trip to Khartoum in May were later arrested and deported amid a sweeping crackdown by security forces that left more than 100 protesters dead and drew international condemnation.

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