South Sudan to free 21 political prisoners

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with former rebel leader and First Vice-President Riek Machar (L) after a new unity government was sworn-in, Juba, South Sudan, 29 April 2016. South Sudan President Salva Kiir named a new unity government sharing power with former rebel leader Riek Machar, ending a conflict that erupted since mid-December 2013. According to peace agreement, the interim government will govern for the next 30 months before holding general elections. EPA/PHILLIP DHIL
South Sudan President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with former rebel leader and First Vice-President Riek Machar (L) after a new unity government was sworn-in, Juba, South Sudan, 29 April 2016. South Sudan President Salva Kiir named a new unity government sharing power with former rebel leader Riek Machar, ending a conflict that erupted since mid-December 2013. According to peace agreement, the interim government will govern for the next 30 months before holding general elections. EPA/PHILLIP DHIL

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on Monday ordered the release of 21 political prisoners, after a peace deal was signed earlier this month with rebel leader Riek Machar.

“The political detainees were released as a sign of peace in the country,’’ Deputy Information Minister Lilian Albino Akol told dpa. She declined to reveal their exact identities.

South Sudan’s government, rebel groups, and opposition parties signed a final peace agreement earlier this month, after weeks of negotiations and years of violence in the world’s youngest nation.

South Sudan descended into civil war in 2013 after Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar, then his vice president of plotting a coup.

The new deal will see the creation of a transitional government, with Mr Machar reinstated as vice president.

Numerous previous agreements have collapsed after warring parties failed to respect the ceasefire.

Years of civil war have left tens of thousands of people dead, and about four million South Sudanese have fled the fighting.

(dpa/NAN)

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