Freed detainees arrive in Ethiopia for S. Sudan peace talks

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

By Mohamed Taha Tawakel

Addis Ababa - Seven freed detainees affiliated with sacked vice president Riek Machar arrived in Addis Ababa on Tuesday from Nairobi ahead of a second round of peace talks between South Sudan's warring factions.

The newly released officials had been staying in Kenya since their release last month by the government of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.

Representatives of Kiir and Machar are slated to start a second round of talks Tuesday to discuss possible means of resolving South Sudan's lingering political crisis.

On Monday, Seyoum Mesfin, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)'s chief negotiator, said the freed detainees would attend the second round on their own, without formally representing either side.

IGAD, an East Africa trading bloc, is mediating the talks.

South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when Kiir accused Machar of standing behind a failed coup attempt against his regime.

Following a month-long first round of talks, the warring rivals signed an agreement in January calling for a cessation of hostilities.

Following the agreement, Kiir ordered the release of seven detained Machar followers, who immediately left South Sudan for Nairobi.

The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives. The UN estimates that some 3.7 million people in South Sudan are now "severely food insecure," while more than 820,000 have been displaced by the violence.

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