JUBA, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's main rebel group on Friday called on the government to lift the existing state of emergency and release key detained members of the group as a sign of political good will in implementation of the peace agreement both sides signed last month.
Puok Both Baluang, deputy director of information and public relations of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army in opposition (SPLM/A-IO), told Xinhua that none of their members detained by the government have yet been released per the signed agreement calling for release of political detainees.
"The SPLA-IO has appealed for the lifting of the state of emergency and release of key political detainees but the government has not shown political good will," Baluang said by phone from the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
President Salva Kiir last November extended the state of emergency in four restive northern regions of the country following intermittent ethnic clashes that left hundreds dead and cattle looted.
The government also released last week 20 political detainees acting on presidential directive, but the SPLA-IO disclosed that none of these belonged to their group and instead urged the government to release some of their key members including the former spokesman of rebel leader Riek Machar.
"We did not receive any prisoners of war and political detainees, none of those released is a member of SPLM/A-IO because we have not received any notice from government that our members have been released," Baluang said.
He also added that they are yet to receive official invitation letter from the government requesting them to attend the upcoming peace celebrations slated for Oct. 30 in the capital.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) this week confirmed that it is willing to facilitate the release of prisoners of war from both sides in order to implement the revitalized peace agreement signed between President Kiir and rebel leader Machar in the Ethiopian capital in late August.
A high-level delegation composed of members of the African Union and United Nations which concluded a three-day visit in South Sudan recently observed some progress in peace implementation, citing the improved cessation of hostilities compared to last year when clashes heightened among the warring parties.
South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest-growing refugee crises in the world.
The UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.
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