Peace deal: South Sudan frees five political prisoners

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (R) talks to South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar as they sign a cease fire and power sharing agreement in Khartoum, Sudan on August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

Five political detainees and prisoners of war have been freed in South Sudan as a peace deal signed in September slowly comes into effect.

Speaking on Thursday in Juba, an unnamed National Security official told reporters that the release of the prisoners was in line with the peace deal that was signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

South Sudan plunged into war two years after independence from Sudan in 2011, when a dispute between President Salva Kiir and then vice-president Riek Machar erupted into armed confrontation. More than 50,000 people have been killed in the violence, with more than two million forced to flee their homes.

Despite the peace deal however, a Reuters witness said the five men who were freed did not appear to be among the senior members of the main rebel faction led by Machar, as agreed under the peace deal.

There has been confusion recently over the fate of detainees. Some of the men who are still detained by the Juba government have been sentenced to death, including Machar’s former spokesman James Gatdek Dak.