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Release the detainees before the next round of talks, insists Dr Riek’s group

Author : Nichola Mandil | Published: Sunday, January 26, 2014

The SPLM in the opposition is urging the government to release the eleven political detainees so that they prepare themselves for the second round of talks next month.

On Thursday, the government and the opposition SPLM led by the former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, signed two agreements on cessation of hostilities and the question of the detainees.

Speaking to Eye Radio in Addis Ababa, the spokesperson of Dr Machar’s group, Hussein Mar Nyuot, said there was no valid reason for the government to still keep the detainees in custody:

“The IGAD is saying the meeting will be in the next two weeks,” said Mr Maar. “If it is the next two weeks, it means also the detainees need to be actually released so that they come and attend the next round of the peace talks.”

Mr. Maar added that the agreement on cessation of hostilities calls on the government to ask Uganda to withdraw its troops from the territory of South Sudan:

“One important thing is that the Ugandan troops need to withdraw from the territory of South Sudan. If these two are done, then I think there will be big hope for the people of South Sudan.”

However, the spokesperson of the Government’s delegation, Hon Michael Makuei Lueth, said the agreement does not mention Ugandan forces specifically but rather talks of allied forces on both sides.

“There is no mention of Ugandan troops, but what is there is that all the forces being allied or your own forces should withdraw from the areas of operations inside South Sudan,” said Mr Makuei.

“I said there is no question of Ugandan troops; who told you that we are talking about Ugandan troops?”

Commenting on the release of the detainees, Hon Makuei said the onus lies with the IGAD team and its partners to increase their efforts to secure the release of the detainees.

However, he stressed that the detainees can only be released in accordance with the laws of South Sudan.

“…we cannot talk specifically of the date of their release.  They would be released in accordance with the constitution and the laws of South Sudan.”

The agreement on the question of the detainees has no timeline regarding their release.

The agreement on a cessation of hostilities has now come into effect.

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