June 6, 2014 (JUBA) - The South Sudanese government has dismissed allegations that the country’s security agents have threatened and arrested relatives of politicians who recently defected to opposition forces.
- South Sudanese information minister Michael Makuei Lueth attends a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 5 January 2014 (Photo: AP/Elias Asmara)
This week, a renowned lawmaker, former minister and a top diplomat resigned in protest over what they claimed were threats and intimidations on their lives allegedly by government security operatives.
Relatives of the defected officials have accused government operatives of harassing and arresting some of their members such as the Ibrahim Ayii Akol, a younger brother to Abdelbagi Ayii Akol Agany, who announced his defection to the rebel forces.
Several names of people allegedly arrested later emerged, some of whom included military officers. Major Ngong Mou Deng, Sergeant Garang Aturjong Nyuol, Awan Dong Ayom, Guma Mohammed Mahmoud and Samuel Taia Rai are reported to be among dozens of people collected from their houses in different Juba locations and thrown behind bars.
The cause of their arrests remain unclear. Relatives and observers told Sudan Tribune that government could have arrested them over their links to the defectors.
But the country’s information minister, in a statement, said neither the government nor its security organs can threaten lives of its own citizens.
"Those involved in a plot to change the regime, but failed in their bid to topple the elected government continue to spread false information to substantiate affiliations to the rebels", said Michael Makuei Leuth.
He also dismissed claims by Richard Mulla, a lawmaker who quit the country over alleged threats on his life, describing the latter as a "well known rebel".
“No surprise at all by these unfounded allegations. It is a well-known fact that Richard Mulla is a well-known rebel, just like Riek Machar. That is one. Number two; there has not been any threat to anybody in terms of threats from our security or any other organ against Richard Mulla. But, it is a known fact that if you are rebelling, you must create a reason, whether it is acceptable or not", said Lueth.
"So, what is stated by Richard Mulla is not correct, it is not true, it’s unfounded. It is only an excuse to substantiate his being a rebel,” he added.
The information minister also said the diplomat who resigned this week was "disgruntled" after he was recalled by the government for voting "against the interest" of friendly countries at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
“Dr. Francis Nazario, as you know, was our ambassador to the United Nations mission and while there, he decided to go against interest of the government. He voted against Israel in favour of the Arabs and against Russia, which are some of our friendly countries. And when he was called back, he felt aggrieved and as such, all that he’s saying is only an expression of his dissatisfaction because he has been transferred from where he was,” he said.
The diplomat told Sudan Tribune that “failure” by government to amicably resolve the country’s ongoing conflict was behind his recent decision to resign from active service.
“I have resigned. Indeed I have decided to resign and I am already out of the country,” he said on Thursday
In 2012, Nazario was recalled by the foreign affairs ministry after he voted in favor of the resolution that supported the right of self-determination of the Palestinians.
In his defence, however, the diplomat said then that he delivered a speech already prepared by the country’s ambassador to the UN Francis Deng, adding that it also reflected government’s position since both president Salva Kiir and former minister for foreign affairs Nhial Deng Nhial had been consulted on the matter.