Pagan Amum, one of four South Sudanese political figures released last week after spending four months in jail for allegedly plotting to oust President Salva Kiir, said Monday he is not bitter about his long detention and will devote his energy to ending the violence in the country.
"We want to end this war," Amum told South Sudan in Focus host John Tanza in an interview.
"Having been released, we have no bitterness, but we are full of hope and love and forgiveness and we want to engage with these brothers to end this war and resolve the problems of our country through dialogue," he said.
Conflict has ethnic overtones
Amum said the conflict, which began in December as a political rift between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, has "unfortunately taken an ethnic dimension."
"People are dying and innocent people are suffering," Amum said.
This is not the time to judge. It's a time to stop the bleeding.
"There are now very clear signs of massacres that have been taking place and the trend of a sectarian split," he said. "This must be brought to an end... Otherwise, it will destroy this young nation."
Amum was one of 11 members of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) who were detained in mid-December after fighting broke out in Juba, before rapidly spilling over into other parts of the country.
Kiir said the clashes in Juba were an attempted coup led by Machar, who went into hiding when the unrest erupted.
Seven of the 11 so-called political detainees were freed in late January, after the warring sides signed a cessation of hostilities pact and agreed to expedite the release of the detained politicians.
But Amum and three others -- former security minister Oyay Deng Ajak, former deputy defense minister Majok D'Agot Atem, and former envoy for southern Sudan to the United States, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth -- remained in jail, and in March were taken to court for hearings to determine if they had committed treason.
They were released last week, with the government saying it had set them free to promote the peace effort for the country. Amum said the case against the four had fallen apart.
Priority is 'to stop thiswar'
Amum said his priority now is to "stop this war" and help to heal the "very serious wounds that have been inflicted on the nation."
"Later on, we will investigate and bring out the truth. But this is not the time to judge. It's a time to stop the bleeding," Amum said.
To listen to the entire interview, click on the link below.