US urges S Sudan to free 4 last rebel detainees

2014-01-30 10:58
South Sudan President Salva Kiir. (File, AFP)

South Sudan President Salva Kiir. (File, AFP)

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Washington - The United States on Wednesday welcomed the release of seven rebel detainees by South Sudan, but urged Juba to release the last four still held, to help boost political reconciliation.

Juba released seven of 11 key leaders detained after last month's alleged coup against President Salva Kiir, and handed them over to Nigerian authorities.

"This is an important step towards an inclusive political dialogue," said state department spokesperson Jen Psaki.

"We urge the government of South Sudan to release the remaining four," she added.

"The full participation of all of the political detainees is critical to a political dialogue," she stressed, calling for their "expeditious release".

The release of all the prisoners has been a key demand of the rebels.

Four leaders remain in custody in South Sudan, facing trial for attempting to topple Kiir after fighting broke out in the capital Juba on 15 December.

Kiir accused his sacked deputy Riek Machar and other former officials of fomenting a coup against his government.

Both sides implemented a ceasefire on Friday, but combat has only eased, not ended, with reports of continuing clashes and a worsening humanitarian crisis that has left thousands dead and forced almost 800 000 to flee their homes.

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