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Rival South Sudan parties mull peace deal

Last Updated: Friday, January 10, 2014 - 20:31

Addis Ababa: Rival teams from South Sudan`s government and opposition reviewed a ceasefire proposal from mediators Friday, with the issue of detainees remaining a sticking point in peace talks.

The proposal from mediators called on both sides to "cease all military action aimed at each other" and to "agree to immediately cease all military operations and freeze their forces," according to a draft seen by AFP.

The country has been gripped by violence since December 15, when clashes broke out between army units loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and those loyal to ex-vice president Riek Machar.

The unrest has escalated into war between government troops and a loose alliance of ethnic militia forces and army units who have defected to the rebel side.

Opposition delegates revised the document Friday to include the release of detainees, which they said must be brokered alongside a ceasefire agreement.

"We added what we think should be added and we actually included the release of the detainees as a priority," rebel spokesman Hussein Mar Nyuot said.

The imprisonment of 11 high ranking politicians is a major stumbling block in talks that have been ongoing in Addis Ababa since last week.

Rebels have repeatedly called for their release, while President Kiir has insisted they will not be set free without a legal process.

Government delegation head Michael Makuei said he was committed to signing a ceasefire as soon as possible, but did not provide details of his government`s revisions to the proposal.

"It is our objective to sign the cessation of hostilities within the shortest possible period," he said.

The ceasefire document, drafted by mediators from the East African regional bloc IGAD, also proposed the establishment of an unarmed force to monitor any parties "that may complicate the peace process" in flashpoint areas.

In addition, it called for immediate humanitarian access to permit the "urgent supply of aid to all displaced populations," according to the proposal.

Earlier Friday, a chief mediator said he was "very optimistic" that a peace deal would be signed, but did not specify the timing of a possible agreement.

First Published: Friday, January 10, 2014 - 20:31

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