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S. Sudan rebels boycott talks over non-implementation of agreements

February 10, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The South Sudanese rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A In Opposition) have announced a boycott of the second round of the peace talks with the government scheduled for Monday, 10 February.

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Head of the rebel delegation General Taban Deng Gai signs a ceasefire to end more than five weeks of fighting in South Sudan after negotiations in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, January 23, 2014. (Photo Reuters/Birahnu Sebsibe)

The rebels led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar, have accused the government led by president Salva Kiir of violating the cessation of hostilities agreement which would have paved way for the next phase in the process.

In a press statement issued by the head of the rebels delegation, Taban Deng Gai, from the Ethiopian capital, the SPLM/A In Opposition said all the political detainees should have been released to join the peace process in Addis Ababa.

"The release of the eleven political detainees has not been honoured as provided for in the signed ‘Release of Political Detainees Agreement’. While detention of seven (7) of the detainees has been shifted from Juba to Nairobi, Kenya, four (4) of them are still under detention to-date," partly reads the statement.

He said they should be allowed to join the political dialogue and choose which side to join or stay neutral.

Kenyan has reportedly succumbed to president Salva Kiir who prevented from leaving Nairobi for Addis Ababa the 7 recently released leaders despite their official invitation to the talks by the mediators of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The rebels further criticised the government for ‘ignoring repeated requests by the International Community, including the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and the Troika – US, UK and Norway.’

The SPLM/A In Opposition also called for an inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation process which they said should include representatives from various sections of the South Sudanese society, including "SPLM party leaders, elected representatives of the people, the civil society, religious leaders and intellectuals."

The statement reiterated the demand for the withdrawal of the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) from South Sudan as a pre-condition for the resumption of the second round of the peace talks per the Cessation of Hostilities agreement.

The rebel chief negotiator therefore announced that they will not participate in the second round of the peace talks until all their demands which are stipulated in the agreements are implemented, including the total freedom and release of all their colleagues in Nairobi and Juba.

"In the light of the forgoing evidence, we are hereby informing all parties, the International Community, the IGAD Peace Mediators, the African Union and the United Nations, that we are abstaining from participating in the next round of peace talks, which are scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa today 10/2/2014...," the statement further said.

Both the South Sudanese government and its partner in the war, Uganda, have downplayed the implementation of the withdrawal of the UPDF, saying until stability returned to South Sudan.

Thousands of people died and nearly a million displaced following the 7-weeks violence, which erupted on 15 December initially between units of the presidential guards in Juba.

(ST)

Kenya refuses to allow former detainees to attend Addis Ababa talks: rebels