December 18, 2013 (JUBA) – Pagan Amum, the former secretary-general of South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM), has been arrested in connection with Sunday’s alleged coup attempt in the capital, Juba.
- Former SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum Okiech (Reuters)
Authorities say his arrest intensifies the pressure on those still at large, confirming that over 10 senior officials, mainly former ministers were being held over the incident, in which hundreds lost their lives.
“Security personnel by the order of president Salva Kiir, had stormed the house of my brother, Pagan Amum Okiech, in Thongpiny area near Juba International Airport, adjacent to [the] UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) compound”, Amum’s sister, Nyibil Amum, said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
“Few hours later, I learnt that my brother Pagan Amum and his body guard brother, Akol Opinyjwok were arrested and taken to security head quarter at Jebel near Jebel kujur area when he called his wife”, she added.
On Wednesday, the Juba government it had arrested more than 10 leading SPLM figures who appeared recently in a press conference with the former South Sudanese vice-president, Riek Machar, whose whereabouts remains unknown, along with Alfred Ladu Gore, Taban Deng Gai and Peter Adwok Nyaba.
Amum, a former chief negotiator during the country’s post-cessation discussions with neighbouring Sudan, has been under house arrest since 23 July when Kiir dissolved his entire cabinet.
He was also known to have been a vocal critic of the country’s leadership, alleging that it had failed to deliver basic services to its people as pledged in various forums.
His remarks prompted the president, also chairperson of the SPLM, to issue an order suspending the former secretary-general, who was neither allowed to address press conferences nor leave the country.
The president later formed a seven-member committee to investigate his actions, amid protest from his lawyers.
Samuel Dong Luak, a lawyer who represented the former secretary-general said the president’s directive against Amum was in breach of the country’s transitional constitution.
Meanwhile, Amum’s family said the government will be held accountable, should anything happen to him or his bodyguard.
“We hold the president Salva Kiir and the government of the Republic of South Sudan responsible for their safety”, the statement said.
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