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Political detainees to be released In the spirit of National Dialogue -Kiir

By Jale Richard

President Salva Kiir has directed the State Prosecutor to review cases of political detainees to ensure they are released in the spirit of the National Dialogue launched yesterday. The President further declared unilateral ceasefire to be observed countrywide.

Kiir revealed this at the launch of the National Dialogue, and swearing in of the steering committee in Juba yesterday.

“As a gesture of good will and in the spirit of national dialogue, I have directed my Prosecutor General to immediately review the cases of those who have committed crimes against the state, commonly known as political detainees,” Kiir told the national dialogue steering committee.

He also declared a unilateral cease-fire and ordered the SPLA command to immediately observe it in their respective defensive positions.

“I declare this unilateral ceasefire to create an environment for inclusive dialogue and to facilitate the movement of humanitarian aid to famine-stricken areas,” he said.

However, Kiir said the unilateral ceasefire will be observed by the SPLA but will act in self-defense if they are attacked by the opposition forces.

He said he has also ordered the security agencies to create an atmosphere for the National Dialogue.

After swearing in of the national steering committee, Kiir tasked the body with immediate start of planning the process, and asked members to consult widely to give the people of South Sudan the opportunity to air their views and aspirations for restoring peace to their country.

Kiir said the dialogue will start with those who are willing and the steering committee should engage with those who are hesitant to take part in the dialogue.

President Kiir said the government will be ready to accept and implement the outcomes of the national dialogue.

He said the National dialogue is based on the belief that solutions to the internal conflict can be resolved by the people of South Sudan. “We have witnessed that imposed solutions can divide and sow the seeds of hate and fear among us,” Kiir said.

He said it is important that South Sudanese take the responsibility of bringing lasting peace to the country.

Kiir called upon the opposition leaders to embrace the spirit of national unity and join the national dialogue to end the violence in the country.

The President said all the opposition groups are welcomed to take part in the national dialogue, except former First Vice President Dr. Riak Machar because he will come and start a fight again.

He said those who doubt the intention of the government in the national dialogue should give the steering committee the benefit of the doubt as they shape the process.

However, Kiir said, Machar can nominate his delegates to participate in the national dialogue, and government will protect them.

Molana Abel Alier and Angelo Beda Bangboru, Co-chairs of the National Dialogue reiterated that they will ensure that the national dialogue will be inclusive of everybody.

Abel Alier said the decision to entrust the steering committee with the work demonstrates political will and determined leadership to end the violence in the country.

According to Alier, they will refer to the speech of the President when he first declared national dialogue in the National Parliament in December last year and the peace agreement of august 2015.

He said the steering committee will ensure inclusivity, integrity and transparency of the national dialogue process. “These are among the benchmarks that will guide the national dialogue process,” he said.

He said the steering committee will consult on the agenda of the national dialogue and its approaches.

According to Alier, the process should be both top-down and bottom-up approaches. According to Angelo Beda, the media must be allowed to play its rightful role of informing the people of South Sudan without intimidation and fear.

President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who was the chief guest pledged his support to the national dialogue.

Museveni said the people of South Sudan should stop misusing their identities as members of ethnic and tribal groups at the expense of their own prosperity.

He said South Sudanese should unite through the national dialogue to resolve the outstanding issues that led to the violence in the country.

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