By Taddeo Bwambale
Seven political detainees released by South Sudan President Salva Kiir last month are to be part of the mediation team that seeks to resolve the conflict through peace talks.
The peace talks will resume on Monday.
IGAD, in a statement on Friday revealed that it had agreed to a formal request from the detainees to take part in the peace talks taking place in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
The release of the detainees was part of the conditions set by the IGAD summit held in Nairobi last month, which resolved 11 political prisoners be set free to facilitate peace talks.
The detainees were released on January 29 and received by Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi.
“The released detainees expressed their commitment to be part of the IGAD mediation process for political dialogue and national reconciliation in the Republic of South Sudan. In light of this, the mediation team has sent them an invitation letter to participate in the political process and they have confirmed,” the statement from IGAD said.
The mediation team will meet the warring parties in separate locations and accord former Vice President, Dr Riek Machar a chance to express his position.
“Special Envoys will be shuttling between Addis Ababa, Juba and other places to hold discussions with President Salva Kiir Mayardit and other officials of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan. The mediation team will also visit Dr. Riek Machar, the leader of the SPLM (in opposition),” said the statement.
The mediators will also visit all capitals of the IGAD Member States to seek their views on the direction of the peace talks.
IGAD brings together six countries of the Horn of Africa region which are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
The IGAD mediation team said it was encouraged by the commitment of all Parties to find a peaceful end to the crisis.
“The parties have reiterated that violence and war is not and cannot be a solution to the crisis in South Sudan; and therefore they are determined to negotiate and work towards an inclusive political dialogue for national reconciliation and healing,” the statement said.
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S. Sudan detainees join mediation team