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South Sudan Frees Political Detainees

South Sudan's government says it has freed four political detainees accused of plotting a coup, in a bid to revive peace talks with the opposition.

The four include former ruling party, Sudan People's Liberation Movement, secretary general Pagan Amum.

Their detention has been a major obstacle in talks between President Salva Kiir's government and rebels loyal to his former vice president, Riek Machar.

In a VOA interview, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said rebels could no longer use the detention of the alleged coup plotters as a pretext to stall the negotiations.

“This is actually significant that the issue of the four main suspects of the coup attempt cannot be used by any party as a ploy to stay away from negotiating in good faith. So it will not remain as another condition in [the] negotiation," said Ateny.

The government detained the political leaders shortly after President Kiir, in December, accused Machar of attempting a coup.

The accusation has lead to months of fighting between forces loyal to Kiir and those loyal to Machar.