Released detainees from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) must be part of the national political dialogue in South Sudan, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country reiterated today as anti- and pro-Government representatives prepare to meet for a new round of peace talks.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) "underscores the necessity of the national political dialogue to continue without delay to reach a comprehensive peace agreement, with the participation of all South Sudanese political and civil society representatives," a UN spokesperson told journalists in New York.
Anti and pro-Government forces are expected to meet today in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The two sides signed a ceasefire last month following peace talks mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), leading to a relative lull.
Over the weekend, UNMISS facilitated the travel of an IGAD needs assessment team to Malakal, some 600 kilometres north of the capital Juba in the oil-bearing state of Upper Nile. The team travelled to move forward on a Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, part of the cessation of hostilities agreement, and to meet with IGAD officials. Earlier today, an IGAD team also visited Bor in Jonglei State, a UN spokesperson confirmed.
Meanwhile, the Mission continues its military and police patrols in locations around the country. In Nassir, in Upper Nile state, the Mission reports the situation to be volatile. The Mission has received reports of fighting between the SPLM and anti-government forces in Thorgwang in Manyo County.
In Bor, Jonglei State, the Mission notes that some government officials have begun returning to the town, as have civilians, but in limited numbers.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed and more than 870,000 others have fled their homes since fighting broke out on 15 December between the forces of President Salva Kiir and deputy president Riek Machar, 75,000 of them seeking refuge on 10 UN bases throughout the country.