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S. Sudan peace partners to free prisoners of war

May 22, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s Council of Ministers in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) resolved Friday that all prisoners of war would be released.

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir (C) poses for a picture after the government swearing in with his first deputy Riek Machar (R) and second deputy James Wani on 29 April 2016 (Photo Moses Lomayat)

The country’s information minister said it was agreed, at the meeting that, any person under arrest from both parties should be handed over to the appropriate authorities so that they can be delivered to their respective institutions.

The government also resolved to suspend talks over cantonment of forces in South Sudan’s Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal regions to the next sitting, Makuei told reporters.

The council further agreed to keep the state of emergency in the Upper Nile region, until security normalises, he added.

Meanwhile Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) has described as “remarkable” the decision reached by the council of ministers on Friday.

“It is encouraging and motivating resolutions. This is how reconciliation and forgiveness start among South Sudanese,” reads CEPO’s statement issued Sunday.

CEPO’s executive director, Edmund Yakani, said the decision to release all political detainees and prisoners of war by the council of ministers demonstrated that the government was fully committed for the beginning of reconciliation and forgiveness among the South Sudanese.

“The decision is timely and impressing although we waited for it for long. It is good response to our advocacy,” said Yakani.

“Stability and peaceful co-existence among the South Sudanese should be paramount and prioritised by everybody at our citizenry various capacities,” he added.

As South Sudan formed a unity government, observers argued that mistrust among its leaders could overshadow its interim arrangement necessitated by a peace agreement.

But Yakani says focus should now be geared towards reconciliation among the South Sudanese, which he believes is key in building a better nation free from violence.

“What His Excellency Vice President Wani Igga, Taban Deng Gai, the new minister of energy and Akol Paul Kordit, the deputy minister of information and communication did in Kenya city of Nairobi is impressive and it should be sustained,” he said, referring to their recent visit to Kenya.

The vice president, while meeting South Sudanese communities in Kenya, emphasised the need for forgiveness as building blocks for the transitional government to properly work.

(ST)