February 3, 2014 (KAMPALA) – South Sudan’s envoy to Uganda on Monday said its former vice-president Riek Machar and two of his close accomplices are to be tried for treason in accordance with the country’s existing laws.
- South Sudan’s ambassador to Uganda Samuel Luate speaks to reporters in Kampala February 3, 2014 (Photo: Moses Lomayat)
Samuel Luate told reporters in the Ugandan capital, Kampala that Machar, ex-Unity state governor Taban Deng Gai and former environment minister Alfred Ladu Gore attempted to overthrow the government by use of arms.
“(..) Dr. Riek Machar and other two, Taban Deng Gai and Alfred Ladu Gore will be charged for treason as per the laws of the Republic of South Sudan. They were attempting to overthrow the Government by the use of arms,” he said.
Last week, South Sudan’s justice ministry slapped treason charges against seven of the country’s 11 political prisoners held in connection with an alleged foiled coup attempt in the capital, Juba on 15 December 2013.
But while Machar, Gai and Gore remain at large, four others are still detained on treason charges. The government has also released and sent to neighbouring Kenya seven other politicians it detained the incident.
Ambassador Luate, however, said those in Kenya would still face the law, should prosecution find them guilty of any involvement in the alleged failed coup.
“The Government of the Republic of Kenya applied for the bail of the release of these seven people. This however does not mean that they are completely free from the prosecution against them,” Luate told reporters.
“Investigations, however, are still ongoing,” he added.
BACKS UGANDAN ARMY
Meanwhile, the South Sudanese envoy dismissed claims that the Ugandan army (UPDF) were illegally in the new nation and should pull-out.
“Uganda troops were invited by the legitimate Government elected by the people of South Sudan and for that matter, the deployment of Uganda forces in South Sudan was clearly sanctioned by IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development], Uganda Parliament as well as the East African Legislative Assembly”, Luate clarified.
“Therefore for anyone to start asking as to when Uganda troops will be leaving South Sudan is not helpful,” he added, while stressing the importance of political stability in his country.
Uganda has lately faced been criticised for its army’s involvement in the South Sudan crisis, although its leader Yoweri Museveni insisted he intervened to save the new nation from possible collapse.
South Sudanese rebels from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army In Opposition (SPLM/A In Opposition) have accused Ugandan troops deployed in the country of committing continuous violations of the cessation of hostilities signed a week ago in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The truce, reached by the two factions in talks mediated by IGAD, called for the withdrawal of allied foreign troops from South Sudan, including the Ugandan army.
However, rebels say there is no sign of a UPDF withdrawal, accusing Ugandan troops of continuing to attack their positions in Jonglei state.
Machar, who leads the country’s ruling party opposition faction, largely blamed South Sudan president Salva Kiir for the violence that has killed thousands and displaced nearly 800,000 people in just six weeks.