1 May 2013

Obama renews pledge to close Guantanamo camp

7:39 pm on 1 May 2013

President Barack Obama has pledged to make a new push to close the Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba, amid a growing hunger strike by prisoners there.

The strike began in February this yeaer, but spread in recent weeks to include more than 100 of the 166 people held at the facility. Most are being held without charge.

Medical staff at Guantanamo Bay have been reinforced, with about 40 nurses and other specialists arriving at the weekend, the BBC reports.

The US Congress has blocked efforts to close the prison, but Mr Obama said on Tuesday that he would renew discussions, describing the the facility as a "lingering problem" that would worsen if it stayed open.

Soon after his election, Mr Obama made closing Guantanamo Bay a top priority, pledging to close it within a year of his inauguration in January 2009.

But his plan to transfer prisoners to maximum security prisons in the United States and try some detainees in the civilian justice system met fierce resistance from lawmakers of the Republican and Democrat parties.

There was trouble at the prison on 13 April this year when inmates were moved out of communal cellblocks where they had covered surveillance cameras and windows.