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S. Sudan President orders investigation into killing of political commentator

December 7, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan president Salva Kiir, on Thursday ordered security services to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the killing of the former South Sudan army (SPLA) turned political commentator, Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol.

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South Sudanese political commentator, Isaiah Ding Abraham Chan Awuol, who was shot dead by unknown gunmen in front of his house in Juba, early on the morning of Wednesday 5 December 2012 (Photo: Hayat)

Kiir issued an administrative directive during a meeting with senior government officials relating to the late opinion writer, Abraham. He was killed on Tuesday night by “unidentified gunmen” in his house in Gudele, west of Juba town. There has been widespread finger pointing in the wake of his death, which remains, as yet, unsubstantiated.

“This is what I have been telling you, that the police must take the issue of security more seriously. You must work together with other security forces, including the SPLA, to contain crimes in Juba. There are reports of people being killed, houses being looted, people being robbed and the public says those involved were wearing police and SPLA uniforms. I know it is not police and SPLA but you must look for these people and take them to court. If you do not produce them, the public will always continue to believe it is you [police and army] responsible for these crimes,” Kiir said.

Many government officials have condemned the killing and called on police and security services to conduct an investigation into the death of a former military officer turned critic of the government.

Suzanne Jambo, secretary for external relations with South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) said in a statement on Thursday that she was shocked to learn Abraham had been killed. 

Jambo asked if Abraham’s death is "the price of speaking bravely in Republic of South Sudan?”

“How can one of our own, a most courageous son of our beloved country, be killed point blank like that? We’re shocked beyond belief how our nascent country may turn to be at its infancy. Is this an attempt to silence the truth, journalists and freedom of expression? Is this a deliberate malicious act to confuse the masses that this is the fate of brave people in our founded nation?" asked Jambo, adding that his family and the public must be told who was responsible for the "heinous" crime.

An anonymous senior presidential security officer told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that Kiir was briefed by the Inspector General of police and senior members of internal security service “about general security situation in Juba. He also received relatives of our late brother Isaiah Abraham. He extended his condolences to the family and instructed that a fact finding security committee must be formed to investigate the killing.”

One of Abraham’s close relatives told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that, “We have come out from external oppressors but the internal liberation is another struggle. You can see the failed system is resorting into killing heroes, the educated and war veterans for telling them look, comrades, what we are doing is not what we fought for. What you are doing is the same thing which led us into war with oppressors for the last 50 years and you cannot come and do it again. That you cannot cheat your own people that you fought for their rights and today you loot their resources. Killing freedom of expression is just killing the nation.”
He added that “I am sure the assailants will not be found by the South Sudan government but that Almighty God will just get them."

A government official who worked with Abraham said his death was a "clear message to us all" that "when a country is led by the blinds, a few with sights become endangered."

Biography of late Isaiah Diing Chan (Isaiah Abraham)

Diing was born in 1962 in Kongor district in the present day Twic East county. He joined Juba Day primary school in 1970 up to intermediate level. He proceeded to junior in the same school. In 1977 he completed his primary school, doing well and being admitted to Malek Secondary school in 1977. He completed his senior year in Malek in 1982.

In November 1983, he joined the SPLA and trained in the Tiger/Timsha Battalion in Bongo, Ethiopia and graduated as a sergeant. He fought in that capacity throughout the Sudanese civil war until 1991 when he was seconded into the Political School in Isoke. After completing his training, he graduated to 2nd Lieutenant and was deployed in Eastern Equatoria-Kapoeta as Political Commissar and Security Officer up to 1998. He left and traveled to Nairobi for further studies, where he joined Daystar University and successfully studied a Bachelors Degree in commerce, majoring in accounting and graduating with honours in 2002.

In 2003, he was employed by Pact Sudan as a team leader in the Upper Nile region up to 2005. From 2006 to 2008, he was working with the government’s Chamber of Employees Justice as a director for finance and administration. In year 2010 he left for Nairobi and joined the University of Nairobi for his Masters Degree, graduating with honours in 2011. He then rejoined the commission and continues in the same position.

Isaiah had two wives and is survived by five children; three boys and two daughters named Arok, Ajah, Aluel, Chan and Ajok. Current in SPLA files, Isaiah rose to the rank of Major in the Shell Seven. He was avid, admired and experienced writer whose articles were widely read in The Citizen Newspaper, Sudan Tribune, South Sudan Nation and many others. The last article was on 28 November 2012 and it was titled: “Khartoum Though Has a Case Must Give Peace a Chance”.