27 December 2013

South Sudan: S. Sudan Releases Two Political Detainees, Calls for Ceasefire

Heavy fighting was raging Thursday in South Sudan's key oil-producing north, officials said, although neighbours Kenya and Ethiopia said they had made ... ( Resource: Progess in Efforts to Broker End of S.Sudan Civil War

Juba — South Sudan on Friday released two of the 11 senior members of its ruling party (SPLM), held in connection with an alleged failed coup attempt in the country, two weeks ago.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta meeting South Sudan's political detainees in Juba December 26, 2013 (Photo: Moses Lomoyat)

The state-owned SSTV said Peter Adwok Nyaba, formerly the minister for higher education and Deng Deng Akon, previously a director in the former vice-president, Riek Machar's office were released, but gave no details on nine others still in custody.

The release, however, comes a day after Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian prime minster Hailemarian Desalegne visited and held talks with the detainees in the capital, Juba.

Sources told Sudan Tribune that Uhuru and Desalenge pressed for the release of the key politicians, mainly ex-ministers, to bolster the ongoing peace efforts. Waves of political violence in Juba and other parts of the country led to the death of over 700 people with nearly 50,000 displaced.

South Sudan president Salva Kiir blamed his former deputy Machar of instigating the incident, an allegation the latter denied.

Since then, however, there have been several regional and diplomatic efforts in search for peace and stability in the new nation.

On Friday, regional leaders under the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) hinted on the possibility of a power sharing agreement in South Sudan during a meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya.

President Kiir on Friday accepted immediate cessation of hostilities in what is seen as a positive signal to progress in talks being brokered by regional leaders.

AU WARNS PARTIES

The African Union, in a communiqué issued Friday, welcomed South Sudan government's commitment to an immediate cessation of hostilities, calling on Machar and other parties to make similar commitments.

The continental body, however, warned that it would consider taken further measures, if the hostilities do not cease within four days.

It also condemned what is described as the "bankrupt" and "opportunistic" ideology of ethnic and religious sectarianism, and urged all parties to refrain from steps that will inflame the conflict further particularly along ethnic and sectarian lines.

The AU called on all humanitarian actors to act quickly and provide all necessary assistance to all civilians and specifically calls on the government of South Sudan and all armed groups to open humanitarian corridors and ensure protection of civilians.

The United Nations has already issued an urgent appeal for $166m to address the humanitarian needs of thousands of people affected by the worst-ever conflict in the country's post-cessation era.

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