8 January 2014

South Sudan: Machar Says No Ceasefire Until Detainees Are Released

Photo: Charlton Doki/IPS
Oil storage facilities at Bentiu, Unity State..

Former South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar has through his delegation in the ceasefire peace talks in Ethiopia has said the rebels will continue to fight until 11 prisoners allied to him are released. Photo/AFP

Talks between the South Sudan and government and representatives of rebel forces have come up against another hurdle after the government delegation rejected calls for the immediate release of detainees.

The government delegation led by Dr Nhial Deng Nhial rejected the calls by the rebel faction allied to former vice president Riek Machar reiterating President Kiir's statement that the detainees would be set free after the requisite legal processes had taken place.

"The detainees will be investigated and those found culpable will face the due process of the law," Kiir said.The 11 detainees were arrested last year over an alleged coup plot. Negotiators representing the Machar-allied rebel forces remained optimistic despite the setback.

"They are destroying the whole process," Yohanis Musa Pauk, spokesman for the rebel delegation, "But we will not leave the talks. We still have hope that they will come to their senses," Pauk said.

The fighting in the South Sudanese capital of Juba has continued fighting into the third week even as reconciliatory talks were opened in neighbouring Ethiopia to reach a ceasefire.

At least 1000 people have died in the conflict with a further 200,000 people displaced in the mainly tribal conflict pitting Kiir's SPLA government forces on one side, and rebels loyal to Machar on the other side.

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