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South Sudan Releases Five Political Prisoners

The government of South Sudan has released five political detainees and prisoners of war, including a former governor and a rebel commander.

The release of all such prisoners was part of a peace deal signed last month by President Salva Kiir and the rebel leader Riek Machar.

Around four million people have been displaced by the five-year civil war.

Mr Machar is due to be reinstated as a vice-president but he remains in exile.

He says he will only attend next week’s peace celebrations if a state of emergency is lifted, political parties are all allowed to operate and any political detainees and prisoners of war are freed. Several remain in detention.

Earlier on Kiir said he has nothing to fear if he were to be charged with crimes against humanity for alleged atrocities carried out by his troops during the country’s civil war.

Speaking to a Kenyan TV station, Mr Kiir said he had done nothing wrong, despite accusations from the UN that his officials may be responsible for the mass murder and rape of civilians and the recruitment of child soldiers.

Mr Kiir insisted he had no involvement in any atrocities and said the claims against him were brought by external forces who had an agenda against his government.

He said if he were to face charges at the International Criminal Court, he would go to The Hague and then return a free man.

He added that there was no proof that his soldiers had committed any crimes. And even if that was the case, he said, those would have been carried out by isolated individuals.

President Kiir said he would also welcome his rival and recently-reinstated Vice-President Riek Machar back to the capital, Juba, assuring him of his safety.

 

Mr Machar has been in exile since 2016 and despite a peace agreement, says he will only return if the state of emergency is lifted and if opposition movements are allowed to operate freely.

-BBC

 

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