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South Sudan rebels withdraw threat to boycott peace talks

Source: Reuters - Tue, 11 Feb 2014 04:07 PM
Author: Reuters
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Jikany Nuer White Army fighters hold up their weapons as they enter a village in Upper Nile State, February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
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ADDIS ABABA, Feb 11 (Reuters) - South Sudanese rebels withdrew on Tuesday a threat to boycott peace talks with the government, saying mediators had promised to address their list of demands.

The rebels said on Monday evening that they wanted four remaining political prisoners held by the government to be released and the Ugandan army, which has been backing President Salva Kiir, to withdraw from South Sudan.

They had threatened otherwise not to attend the resumption of talks that last month secured a ceasefire in a conflict that has killed thousands and displaced more than half a million South Sudanese since it broke out on December 15.

Yohanis Musa Pauk, spokesman for the rebel delegation, told Reuters the rebels had decided to take part in the second round of talks after receiving assurances from the mediators.

"The IGAD mediators have given us guarantees that all the issues that we have raised will be addressed," Pauk said.

Kiir's government has released seven of a group of 11 detainees held on suspicion of trying to stage a coup.

The talks, initially set for Monday, are now due to start on Wednesday in the resort town of Debre Zeit some 40 kilometres south of Addis Ababa, enabling the freed political prisoners to participate.

The first round of talks took place in the Ethiopian capital.

(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; editing by Drazen Jorgic, John Stonestreet)

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