Freed ex-S. Sudan minister says not to take sides in ongoing conflict

The freed politicians had been accused of involvement in an alleged mid-December coup attempt against Kiir's regime.

The freed politicians had been accused of involvement in an alleged mid-December coup attempt against Kiir's regime.

By Mohamed TahaTawakel

ADDIS ABABA - Former South Sudanese government minister Deng Alor said Thursday that he would not take sides in the country's ongoing conflict despite accusations by the government of President Salva Kiir of involvement in a failed coup attempt.

"We don't belong to any faction, whatsoever. We belong to the people of South Sudan," Alor, one of seven senior politicians who arrived in Addis Ababa after being released last month and granted asylum in Kenya, told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

The freed politicians had been accused of involvement in an alleged mid-December coup attempt against Kiir's regime.

"Over the last two months, the South Sudanese people were brutalized, traumatized and uprooted. There were plans to pit them against each other. They wanted the war-of-all-against-all. This must end soon," Alor said.

The released politicians arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Wednesday night to participate in a second round of peace talks mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East Africa trading bloc.

"I'm here to play a role in the future of my country… The rule of law and justice and freedom shall be the essence of South Sudan. I stand for this sacred popular quest," Alor asserted.

Alor said his group merely sought the establishment of competent executive and legislative authorities, along with an independent judiciary, with a view to establishing a civilian state.

"We need a system and understanding of conducting fair and free elections in 2015 and whoever is voted to office will lead us to the future," he said.

Alor's statements, however, were met with skepticism on the part of Kiir's negotiating team.

"We don't trust them at all... If they want to be with us, they have to go to Juba and be authorized by President Salva Kiir to be on the government side," Nhial Deng Nhial, chief government negotiator told Anadolu Agency.

"And if they don't join us, they are with opponents. The line is already drawn on the political map," he added.

South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when Kiir accused his sacked vice-president, Riek Machar, of standing behind a failed coup attempt.

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

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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