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S. Sudanese lawmaker blocked from attending peace talks

The opening session of the revitalization forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, December 18, 2017 (ST)

February 4, 2018 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese opposition lawmaker was on Sunday blocked by security officers from leaving Juba international airport where he was to participate in the peace revitalization forum due in Ethiopia from 5-16 February.

Andrew Okony was one of the representatives of political parties for the forum mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Okony said his detention followed allegations that he had not obtained the clearance needed before anyone in government is are permitted to travel out of the country.

“I was blocked at Juba international airport from travelling with my colleagues today to Addis Ababa to participate in the revitalization as one of the representatives of the alliance of the political parties. I was surprised because all the nominations were made and nobody objected to my nomination from either the political parties or the government,” the lawmaker told Sudan Tribune.

He added, “We were all cleared and permitted to go and attend the revitalization forum. Unfortunately, I was surprised by this action”.

Security sources told Sudan Tribune their actions were in compliance with directives received from the director general of the internal bureau, Akol Koor Kuc, who allegedly connived with the minister of agriculture to deny the legislator a chance a travel since he is perceived to be close to former agriculture minister, Lam Akol Ajawin.

Akol, a leading opposition figure, is also participating at the talks in Addis Ababa.

Meanwhile, the deputy Agriculture minister, Kernelio Kon said he is one of the three opposition members invited to participate in the second phase of the revitalization process of the 2015 peace accord.

South Sudan’s warring parties are preparing for a second round of talks next week, aimed at revitalizing a 2015 peace deal between the government and rebel forces.

Those attending the initiative, known as the High-Level Revitalization Forum, are expected to discuss security and governance structures for South Sudan.

South Sudan descended into war in mid-December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. The conflict has forced more than 2 million people to flee their homes.

(ST)