- Regional powers have unveiled a plan to draw a deal between South Sudan warring parties.
- Kenya is among countries forging a new plan to end ongoing South Sudan conflict.
- The fresh bid to end 17 months of civil war in South Sudan was launched by regional powers on Monday 3rd with a push to reconcile the country’s president and rebel leader.
The latest peace plan involves the return to South Sudan’s capital Juba of a group of former political detainees, arrested by government forces as the civil war began in December 2013 and released to Kenya weeks later.
South Sudanese government towards the end of January 2014 released seven of the 11 high-ranking political figures who were detained shortly after unrest erupted in Juba, but said the four others could be tried for treason. The seven who were released, Deng Alor Kuol, Gier Chuang, Kosti Manibe, Chol Tong Mayay, Cirino Hiteng, Madut Biar Yel and John Luk Jok were handed over to the custody of the authorities in Kenya.
Intelligence has foreseen that the government pardon and eventual acceptance back home for the group, all of whom held influential positions in South Sudan’s ruling SPLM party, will play a bigger role in ending the war between President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar.
Kenya has been central in the new peace process since its inception. The country, which neighbors South Sudan on the southern frontier, was ready to host the political detainees who were released on bail in 2014.
Kenya’s foreign minister was part of the delegation that saw to the return home of the 11 former South Sudan detainees.
The civil war in the world’s youngest nation began in December 2013, when Kiir accused his sacked deputy Machar of attempting a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings across the country. The latest round of fighting has cut off over 650,000 people from aid, with fighters torching towns, raping residents and looting relief supplies, according to the United Nations and aid agencies.
The United States President Barack Obama said last July, 2015 that the US was working with the UN Security Council to gather evidence for possible sanctions against leaders of the warring factions unless they reached a means to end the far-stretched crisis.
Kiir and Machar’s forces continue to seek battlefield victories in the war torn Africa’s youngest nation. However, armed opposition in South Sudan is expected to see the government pardon as a nice gesture to ease talks and end the civil strife.