South Sudan

Kiir, Machar Agree to Release Prisoners of War


The South Sudan unity government leaders have agreed to release the prisoners of war captured by both sides during the two years of armed conflict.

In a Council of Transitional Ministers meeting on Friday, abortion President Salva Kiir who heads the mainstream SPLA/M and First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar the leader of SPLA/M (In Opposition) took a number of decisions to ease the tension between their groups that only came together last month.

In April, the government and the rebels formed the Transitional Government of Unity that is expected to last years.

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During the war, both sides took prisoners of war. Different humanitarian groups accused the government and the rebels for engaging in summary executions whenever the opponents were captured alive and even those who voluntarily surrendered.

The government is expected to be holding the biggest number of PoWs in different National Security Service detention centers in capital Juba and the Greater Equatoria states. The National Security Service is the intelligence arm of the SPLA.

The rebels are also holding a good number of PoW in their controlled areas in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity States.

According to sources who attended the Friday’s meeting, the two sides are “serious” on reconciliation and are both ready to play any concession contrary to what many observers believed that the transitional government would not last for long achieve its aspirations.

“We agreed for peace once and for all. The business is peace and yesterday we all agreed again to release the prisoners of war who were taken during the days when the bullet was the only language,” a source who attended the meeting but authorized to talk to press told ChimpReports.

The contentious cantonment site locations were also deliberated on and subsequently pushed to the Joint Monitoring Ceasefire Committee (JMCC).

The Deputy Spokesman of Machar, Nyarji Jermlili Roman confirmed the development in a statement released on Saturday morning.

“The Council of Ministers yesterday chaired by President Kiir and attended by First Vice President Machar resolved the issue of the cantonment areas in Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal regions,” part of the
statement received by ChimpReports said.

As part of ceasefire arrangement, cantonment sites were created for soldiers on the frontline from both sides to withdraw and gather themselves in the specified locations.

The identification of sites for each group however became a problem and yesterday’s meeting has finally decided.
“The cantonment areas identification task will be carried out by the JMCC who will assess the level of SPLA-IO forces in Greater Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile and Equatoria regions to determine the allocations,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the supply routes for humanitarian relief access and movements of people and goods were also ordered to be opened by the forces of both sides.



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