Home | News    Monday 22 September 2014

South Sudan hits back at opposition over travel ban

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September, 21, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government has refuted accusations that it blocked an opposition delegation from attending peace talks in neighbouring Ethiopia, claiming that its leaders did not complete the prerequisite requirements for travellers holding diplomatic passports.

opposition Leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), Lam Akol (AFP)The leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), Lam Akol, who initially headed the delegation, was among those prevented from travelling.

In a statement broadcast by state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV), information minister Michael Makuei Lueth denied the government had prevented the opposition delegation from travelling to Addis Ababa.

“Lam Akol and his group was not able to travel because he holds a diplomatic passport and did not carry out the required procedures for those who hold diplomatic passports,” said Lueth.

“If he (Lam Akol) wants to roam the world without permission, he should get himself an ordinary passport,” the minister added.

According to Lueth, diplomatic passport holders are required to seek approval and clearance for external travel from the ministry of foreign affairs and the relevant authorities.

He denied that there was a relationship between the delegation’s failure to travel and what took place during the Political Parties Leadership Forum prior to the alleged ban in which Akol was dimissed from his role as head of the coalition amid claims he was causing disagreements with the government delegation.

However, the opposition political parties released a statement saying Akol and his group do not hold diplomatic passports.

“He (Lam Akol) holds an ordinary passport, so is the case with the four other members in the delegation of the political parties who were prevented from travelling to Addis Ababa on Saturday the 13 (September). He used the same ordinary passport when he travelled to Addis Ababa before to take part in the last round of talks. It appears the minister of information is the last to be informed,” the group said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

The parties also called on Lueth to verify the information with the Immigration Department under the ministry of interior.

The statement also questions why, if as the minister says, an ordinary passport holder is not required to seek permission to travel outside South Sudan, a travel ban was necessitated.

“This indeed is the norm all over the world and is provided for in Article 27(2) of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011. The question that poses itself is: Why did the government prevent Dr Lam Akol from travelling when he holds an ordinary passport?” the statement said.

The group were reportedly blocked from leaving Juba on 13 September after immigration officials denied them exit visas despite the delegation receiving an invitation to attend the talks from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating the peace process.

In a petition to the government on 15 September, the group accused South Sudan’s minister of cabinet affairs and his information counterpart of deliberately attempting to cause division within the political parties’ leadership.

The United States and the representatives of EU member countries have also expressed concern over the incident.

Opposition parties are now calling on authorities to provide clarification if in fact the incident was the result of an “unintended mistake”.

“It is our hope that that the minster is sincere in what he said that the government did not stop Dr. Lam Akol from travelling to take part in the peace talks in Addis Ababa and that what took place is an unintended mistake from the immigration officer at the airport,” the statement said.

“If that is the case, then the concerned authorities in the state should address those affected by the prevention and assure them that they are free to travel,” it adds.

(ST)

- S. Sudanese political parties petition Kiir over travel ban
- S. Sudan slaps travel ban on leader of opposition parties
- Opposition parties dismiss leader from S. Sudan peace talks

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  • 22 September 2014 11:26, by Dengic

    Lam Akol want to become President.How can he not hold diplomatic passport?....Maybe the political parties are just using that statement to back up their claims.No one in Immigration Office will allow him to apply for ordinary passport.

    repondre message

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