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South Sudan to release all but three political detainees

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December 28, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan announced on Saturday that it will release all but three of the nine remaining political detainees accused of conspiring to oust president Salva Kiir on 15 December.

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Former SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum Okiech (Reuters)

Eleven senior officials from South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) were arrested shortly after infighting within the army (SPLA) triggered a nationwide crisis almost two weeks ago. The announcement followed the release of two other detainees on Friday.

All the accused deny attempting to overthrow Kiir’s government, although former vice-president Riek Machar is now leading a rebellions against the government in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states.

The release of detainees has been one of the conditions Machar has said must be met before he will engage in talks to end the conflict, which has led to over 1,000 deaths and the displacement of over 120,000 people, according to the UN.

“The government had agreed in principle to immediate cessation of hostilities, so that access to humanitarian assistance and operations is not hindered”, minister of cabinet affairs Martin Elia Lomuro told journalists on Saturday.

“The government is also committed to peaceful dialogue and to release all political detainees consistent to our laws and the constitution, except individuals who have criminal cases to answer”, Lomuro said.

Media reports suggest that Machar has appointed Pagan Amum, the former SPLM secretary- general, to be part of his negotiating team in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Amum, is one of the three SPLM members that remain in detention, according to presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny.

He said Amum, along with former finance minister Kosti Manibe and former cabinet affairs minister Deng Alor will not be released as they still have criminal cases to answer.

“Apart from these officials, the rest of the political detainees will be released. Two of the eight have already been released. They are now free since yesterday. The rest will also follow”, Ateny said.

The decision to release the political detainees and to declare a cessation of hostilities came after extensive consultations with the leaders of Ethiopia and Kenya during a visit to Juba on Thursday, where an agreement on unconditional dialogue was also reached, Lomuro said.

Lomuro said the government hopes that a political solution can be found to stop the young nation slipping into a full-blown conflict.

The decision to release more of the detainees “was arrived at after holding extensive consultative discussions at [the] high level of leadership. At the ministerial level meetings, there were queries which sought clarifications on the status and nature of the group the government would now enter into dialogue [with]. [If] it is [a] rebel movement then a name of this rebellion must be known”, he said.

The minister said Machar had complicated the negotiations by demanding that some of the political detainees in Juba be released so that they could participate in talks as members of his group.

“Imagine people have been arrested in connection with the alleged coup and instead of allowing them to clear themselves before the court of law he is making conditions and even appointing some of them in detention as members of the delegations to participate in the dialogue”, Lomuro said.

“He is confirming that they participated in this failed coup. I don’t know why he thinks like that. Some people are educated, but they have problem with reasoning”, he added.

(ST)

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  • 29 December 2013 06:23, by Ahmed Chol

    Don’t hold them just because they are from minority tribes and they don’t have a threatening army to destroy you. What did they do different that the other detainees didn’t do? Salva is scared of Pagan’s political potentials and that is the only reason. Pagan may be evil but remember that he negotiated the remaining elements of CPA that led to the success of referendum while some of you were drunk

    repondre message

    • 29 December 2013 07:47, by Majongdit

      Ahmed Chol,
      We have always condoned your useless utterances because you are a nonentity. Deng Alor is going to remain behind bars, and he is a Dinka. who has a bigger fighting force really the Dinka? If those detained are being released by the size of their tribes, then Deng Alor would have been among the first to come out.

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      • 29 December 2013 08:04, by Ahmed Chol

        Maguangdit,
        Deng Alor is still a minority. He is from Abyei, he does not have a lot of his relatives with big guns to defend him. He is accused of stealing of 8 million. Arthur Akuein Chol stole $60 millions in 2009 and he is not jail now, why Deng Alor?

        repondre message

  • 29 December 2013 06:26, by choldit

    Mr. Lomouro,
    You need to dig deeper to see what Dr. Riek means though the reason is so simple to understand, even for we ordinary pple.
    We all kno there is no coupe but a staged one for covering the plane for killing the Nuer in Juba so that the Nuer in the states will fight our poor SPLA in the regions then the govt will declare military rule and Dr. Riek and his democratic wishes will be kill

    repondre message

    • 29 December 2013 06:32, by Mayom County Boy

      According to SPLM laws let them remain in prison
      i hope SPLM will release them as he release other ?
      enough is enough .
      let us allow peace to previal in our country .

      repondre message

  • 29 December 2013 08:16, by Knight In Shining Armor

    Dr. Lomoro, I know you are educated but, to call what happened on 15th December 2013 a coup means, you have reasoning problem. You just got appointed and now the hunger to stay in power starts building in you. I expected you to reason better than that.

    repondre message

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