South Sudan rejects call for release of detainees

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The South Sudan Government on Saturday in Addis Ababa rejected international calls for the release of 11 rebel leaders captured in the wake of the conflict between the two parties.

Mr Michael Makuei, the Spokesperson for the South Sudan Government at the ongoing peace talks told journalists on Saturday in Addis Ababa that his country would not release the detainees captured in December last year.

Makuei said the detainees would only be released according to the law of South Sudan.

He, however, expressed optimism that an agreement to cessation of hostilities was underway, in spite of the disagreements between the two groups.

The rebels’ group had demanded the release of the 11 political detainees as one of the pre-conditions for successful peace negotiations with the Silver Kirr-led government.

The government’s rejection followed calls by the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Friday.

The UNSC  had on Friday warned against external interventions that could exacerbate the nearly one month of military and political tension in South Sudan.

The Council, in a statement, renewed calls for all parties involved in the conflict to commit to cessation of violence and hostilities and urged government to protect civilians, including foreign nationals and personnel.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Addis Ababa reports that the UN statement did mention any country said to have intervened in the conflict.

The rebel group had on Thursday, Jan. 9, accused Uganda of using its Air Force of fighting alongside government forces in a bid to defeat rebels who were loyal to South Sudan former vice-president, Riek Machar.

Uganda had, however, denied any military involvement, saying its troops were only in South Sudan to protect its citizens trapped in the violence.

Talks between the warring parties, under the mediation of regional leaders from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), were currently ongoing in Ethiopia, with calls for peaceful dialogue through cessation of hostilities.

Meanwhile, the IGAD mediating team had on Saturday morning moved to Juba for an undisclosed meeting with the South Sudan’s former Vice President, Reik Machar, in an effort to sign a peace agreement within few days.

More than 1,000 persons have been killed and more than 200,000 displaced as the conflict flared along ethnic lines in South Sudan’s states of Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity. (NAN)

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