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Machar orders release prisoners of war in S. Sudan rebel hands

January 9, 2018 (JUBA) - The South Sudan armed opposition (SPLM-IO) leader Riek Machar has ordered the release of war prisoners in the rebel-controlled- areas on Tuesday, pointing the move is part of the cessation of hostilities agreement reached in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in December 2017.

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Machar speaks on a mobile phone after an interview with Reuters in Kenya’s capital Nairobi July 8, 2015

“In compliance to article 9 of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians and humanitarian access, all prisoners of war that were captured by the SPLM/SPLA (IO) forces during the conflict are hereby released with effect from today,” reads a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.

According to the former first vice-president who is confined in South Africa, the directives include the categories of personal outlined in article 9 (2) of the said agreement.

He said the prisoners would be handed to the International Committee of the Red Cross for possible relocation to the area they wish to go.

The statement didn’t mention the number of government soldiers who have fallen into rebel hands as prisoners of war across the country.

At least 500 war prisoners, including political detainees, are in government custody according to the SPLM-IO which took part of the peace revitalization forum in Ethiopia.

Thel revitalization forum was convened on 18-22 December, by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the support of the international community to bring the warring parties to agree on the implementation of the peace agreement reached in August 2015.

However, a humanitarian cessation of hostilities, which was signed by the warring parties in Addis Ababa had never been respected with several violations escalating the war in the country.

(ST)