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Top 4 Political Stories of the Day

An advance team of monitors sent by east African nations arrived in South Sudan on Sunday to set up a mission tasked with observing a shaky ceasefire agreed by government and rebel forces. The team's first task was to meet government officials and non-state organizations and conduct recces of possible areas for deployment, the regional IGAD grouping, which brokered the truce, said in a statement. Thousands of people have been killed and more than 800,000 have fled their homes since fighting erupted in mid-December, triggered by a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar whom he sacked in July. According to UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Toby Lanzer, The chairman of a New Jersey legislative committee looking into the role Gov. Chris Christie's administration played in an apparently politically motivated traffic jam, is defending his role after criticism from a Christie ally. Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he has not prejudged the case, but he does have doubts about the timeline the Republican governor has given about what he knew and when. Also on the show, former New York City Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani questioned Wisniewski's role, saying he has his mind made up already. Elections in Thailand passed off peacefully on Sunday but the country was no nearer to ending its intractable political conflict, with the government facing the prospect of months of paralysis, protests and complex legal challenges. Voting was disrupted in about a fifth of the country's constituencies, but no major violence was reported, despite armed clashes between supporters and opponents of embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that wounded seven people on the eve of the ballot. "To those of you who went out and prevented ballot boxes from being delivered, thank you," protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said in a speech at one of seven rally sites in Bangkok, where anti-Thaksin sentiment is strong. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday brushed off U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's warning that Israel faced a growing boycott threat if peace talks with the Palestinians fail, saying the campaign would not achieve its goal. In the latest flare-up between the two allies, two of Netanyahu's Cabinet ministers went even further, lashing out at Kerry and accusing him of undermined the Jewish state's legitimacy and the chances of reaching a peace agreement. Israel and the Palestinians launched peace talks in July after a long lull and have thus far shown little signs of progress. Facing an April deadline, Israel is working against a backdrop of increasing international pressure to reach a deal, coupled with a growing call for boycotting Israel over its settlements in areas it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

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