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South Sudan Frees Sudanese Communist Leaders After Brief Confinement

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Sudanese Communist Party Chief Mohamed Mokhtar al Khatib

South Sudan Wednesday released Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) leaders who were arrested for having travelled to the SPLM-N-held area in South Kordofan state without the needed permission.

Three SCP officials travelled last week to Juba for talks with SPLM-N leader Abdel Aziz al-Hilu and SLM leader Abdel Wahid al-Nur. The party’s purpose of the meetings is to discuss ways to unite joint efforts to topple down the military leaders and establish a civil state.

However, the South Sudanese Minister of Presidential Affairs said on Wednesday that his government there are no Sudanese political figures in detention in Juba.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin described relations between the two countries as strong and are guided by the 2012 cooperation agreement which binds the two countries to “respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and to “refrain from launching and hosting hostile and negative armed and non-armed opposition groups without the knowledge of the other”.

Benjamin stressed that the policy of President Salva Kiir’s government is to promote peace and mutual cooperation.

“His Excellency the President of the Republic has been playing a significant role in the search for peace in Sudan and Sudanese leadership and the region recognizes these important efforts. Peace in Sudan means peace in South Sudan,” he said.

Political Secretary Mohamed Mukhtar al-Khatib, Spokeswoman Amal al-Zainand and External Relations Official Saleh Mahmoud were confined in their hotel in Juba and their movements were restricted.

Siddiqi Kabbalo Member of the SCP Central Committee told the Sudan Tribune that the delegation has the required visa but the authorities in Juba blamed them for not informing them about the nature of the meetings held in the country.

The delegation, in response, said they are guests and that it is for the parties they met to inform the South Sudanese authorities, Kabbalo said.

A high-ranking security official told the Sudan Tribune on Wednesday the mission of the Sudanese delegation was “illegal” and undermines the efforts for peace in Sudan that President Salva Kiir was making.

“Nobody knew they were coming for political reasons,” the official said before adding that their mission became clear after they met and held talks with Abdel Wahid here in Juba before travelling to Kauda in South Kordofan.

“There was no prior information about the details of their mission. They did not coordinate with us and this was the concern and it was what we told them when they returned. We told them to coordinate because it is about their safety and their security,” he emphasized.

He underscored that his government would be held responsible for their safety if anything happened to them.

The official added that all of them have been freed now.

The PSC refuses to take part in the political process facilitated by the trilateral mechanism as they reject the participation of the coup leaders in the process.

The SPLM-N al Hilu and the SLM al-Nur also reject the coup and call for the restoration of a civilian government.

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