By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
October 7, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – A member of South Sudan’s armed opposition (SPLM-IO) said they released dozens of Kenyan aid workers held in Akobo state.
Those recently arrested worked for non-governmental entities in rebel-controlled areas.
The opposition movement’s move against the Kenyans appears to be in retaliation to Kenya’s move to deport SPLM-IO spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak to South Sudan.
Goanar Gordon Yien, secretary in the office of the chairman told Sudan Tribune that 72 aid workers arrested by SPLM-IO field commanders and governors have been freed.
Yien said the aid workers were freed after the former vice-president, Riek Machar, ordered their release, saying they were innocent and had nothing to do with Dak’s deportation.
Machar’s spokesperson was picked from his residence in Nairobi on Wednesday by uniformed and non-uniformed wearing officers claiming to be Kenyan authorities.
On Thursday last week, Dak was flown to the South Sudan capital and imprisoned. Although not much is known about his situation, opposition officials fear he could be killed.
“We heard he is safe but for us we are not sure .We are concerned about his situation. We can’t trust Juba government”, said Yien.
He urged the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and East African regional bloc (IGAD) member states to put pressure on Juba government for his immediate release.
Dak, who is also a United States citizen, was deported after he posted a statement on Facebook welcoming United Nations Secretary General’s decision to dismiss it’s peacekeeping boss in South Sudan, Lt. General. Johnson Mogoa Kimani.
Opposition officials in Addis Ababa alleged that First Vice president, Taban Deng, proposed names of 15 South Sudanese opposition figures to be deported to Juba.
The plan, sources said, was to bring alive politicians they accuse of spreading war messages. It was also intended to discourage war mongers residing in Kenya.