The leader of a rebellion against South Sudan’s government told Reuters that he was ready for dialogue to end the conflict but said President "Salva Kiir" must first release his detained political allies, something the government then said it was unprepared to do.
Former Vice President "Riek Machar" said he had spoken Monday to Ethiopia’s foreign minister, the leader of a team of African mediators trying to end more than a week of fighting that has killed hundreds of people and driven thousands from their homes, noting that “my message was let Salva Kiir release my comrades who are under detention and let them be evacuated to Addis Ababa and we can start dialogue straightaway, because these are the people who would handle dialogue”.
In response, the country’s information minister said that the government won’t meet the demand to free any opposition
Machar said that “acease-fire is always part of the negotiation, it cannot be done through telephone, nor can it be done through shuttle diplomacy”, adding that Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa was his proposed site for talks.
Machar also said he controlled oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile States but did not want to halt production, saying revenue from the fields should be deposited in an escrow account so South Sudan did not lose the funds due to fighting.