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JUBA (UPDATE 09:29) - 24 Dec 2013

Detained Kiir opponents 'well taken care of': US envoy

Donald Booth, the US special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, visited 11 detained opponents of President Salva Kiir in Juba, the capital of South Sudan on Monday. ‘I can report that they are secure and well taken care of,’ he said afterwards.

Booth was granted access yesterday after what he called “a very constructive meeting with His Excellency the President and His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs.”

Booth says after his vists that: “These individuals communicated to me their desire – and their readiness – to play a constructive role in ending the crisis through peaceful political dialogue and national reconciliation. I will be following up to see how the government may utilize this constructive position.

Eleven dissidents from Kiir’s party including ex-ministers and a former deputy chief of defense were arrested last week after clashes broke out within the presidential guards. They are accused of attempting a coup, but their ally Rebecca Garang says they are innocent and are all peaceful opponents with nothing to do with the army.

Late last week a ministerial delegation of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) returned to Addis Ababa after having failed to meet with the detainees. The group which represents several East African countries had played a key role in the CPA negotiations that ultimately led to South Sudan’s independence.

Booth was previously ambassador to Liberia and Zambia inder the George W. Bush administration, and ambassador to Ethiopia undere Barack Obama. He now serves as Obama’s special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. He was last in Juba during an investment conference two weeks ago.

Related: Kiir allows US envoy to meet detained opponents (23 Dec.)