Home | News    Thursday 13 March 2014

Rebels may boycott talks over court trial against SPLM leaders


By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

March 12, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The chief negotiator of the SPLM/A in Opposition said on Wednesday his negotiating team had yet to decide on whether it would boycott South Sudan peace talks should a court ruling go against four senior political figures charged with treason.

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South Sudan political detainees (left to right) Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, Majak d’Agoot, Pagan Amum and Oyai Deng Ajak at a trial hearing in Juba on 11 March 2014 (Photo: AFP/Andrei Pungovschi)

General Taban Deng Gai told Sudan Tribune that it is too early to consider pulling out of the ongoing negotiations while the court hearing is still in its early stage.

However, Gai said his negotiating team would make a decision once the court passes its ruling.

The charges against the four senior officials from the country’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) include treason, incitement of the masses, causing disaffection among police or defence forces, defaming the government of South Sudan and undermining the authority of or insulting the president.

While Gai confirmed his team will continue to participate at the next round of negotiations due to resume on 20 March 20, he said he will not be taking part in a planned SPLM political bureau meeting, which is reportedly due to be held in Ethiopia.

Rebels said they have no knowledge about the meeting or who had called it.


The four political detainees faced court on Tuesday in the South Sudan capital, Juba, with the government asking the court to impose the maximum penalties.

Pagan Amum Okiech, former SPLM secretary-general, Oyai Deng Ajak, former army chief-of-staff, Majak D’Agoot, former deputy defence minister and diplomat Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth have been in detention since their arrest in connection to their alleged role in a reported coup attempt to overthrow the government in mid-December, which sparked violence around the country.

Gai, former turned rebel leader vice-president Riek Machar and former environment minister Alfred Lado Gore have also been charged in absentia.

Seven out of the initial 11 political detainees accused of plotting the alleged coup were released following a ceasefire agreement brokered by the Intergovermental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating the peace talks.

However, initial pledges by Juba to free the remaining four detainees under IGAD’s accountability, went unfulfilled, despite mounting international pressure.

Puot Kang Chol, one of the representatives of the 16-member rebel delegation, told Sudan Tribune that the launch of trial proceedings against the four political detainees undermines the Addis Ababa peace pact signed on 23 January.

He said the court trial further highlights Juba’s reluctance to implement the terms of the agreement signed between the government and opposition forces aligned with Machar.


South Sudan rebels in Addis Ababa have slammed ongoing proceedings in Juba, describing the hearing as a “kangaroo court”.

Chol has accused president Salva Kiir of trying to falsely prove the occurrence of a coup that never took place.

“This is not a real court, because these are concocted evidence by both the chief of justice and Salva Kiir. The judgment is known because all Kiir wants to prove is that there was a coup”, he said.

He urged youth, the wider public in South Sudan and the international community not to recognise the trial, saying the court had no legitimacy.

The rebels claim the court trial violates January’s peace accord, as well as the South Sudan constitution, adding the move was an indication of the Juba administration’s defiance to reach a peaceful settlement to the conflict.


Rebel officials argue that there is no evidence showing how the alleged coup was planned or carried out, reiterating calls for the president to release the four detainees.

“We still urge president Kiir to release them. You can’t reach any conclusion in South Sudan without the participation of these [four] SPLM leaders,” Chol said

He said the current crisis could not be solved without addressing the root cause which triggered the violence, adding that the participation of the detainees in ongoing negotiations was critical.

“What we have been calling for is; there were no coup; release these men so that they participate [in peace talks] because it is signed in the status of the detainees that their participation is crucial and that was the document we signed,” Chol said.

“Especially if you talk about Pagan [Amum] for you to solve the problem you must dig the root causes of the problem. We all agree the crisis is political and started within the SPLM and you can’t solve it without the secretary-general of the party because he is the one who has the documentation of this.”

An estimated 10,000 people have died and almost one million displaced since conflict erupted in the country.

Peace talks were suspended earlier this month to allow further consultations between IGAD and civil society representatives.


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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 13 March 2014 06:30, by mathem jech amer

    Look at this liar,creating stories from his own and post the. Tomorrow you will see rebels denying that they told this.Pls enjoy your drinks and food in free provided accommodation in hotel with rebels and stop lying.

    repondre message

    • 13 March 2014 06:44, by Sir King

      Gogrial Mathem Jech Amer,
      Please you are mad now, denying everything post and every information to the web. Your King, Kiir Mayardit is totally gone and that is to stop stupid Gogrial CATTLE KEEPERS FROM KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE. That is the time Malong Awan will leave Aweil. Aweil must be for Aweil people but not Malong Awan and Jonglei for people of Jonglei not for Kuol Manyang. Sorry for Kiir

      repondre message

      • 13 March 2014 06:46, by Sir King

        - Warrap for people of Warrap not for Sharmutha, Nyandeng. Salva Kiir fuck martyrs’ wives for employment. This is no good. Look at this mess. Kiir must go with Malong Awan.

        repondre message

        • 13 March 2014 07:12, by Mi diit

          Gen Taban Deng,
          Boycott that unfruitful talk with the deaf government of Mrs. Akiir Museveni. They simply use it to buy time while continuing to violate the agreements they signed. Why prosecute the four detainees when the agreement talks of their release. Please don’t entertain those fools in Juba.

          repondre message

          • 13 March 2014 09:34, by Alfredo christiani

            Idiots Sir King & mid iit
            You were brought up in refugees camp, Kiir Maryaridt will rule SS until end of his life, whether by ballot box or bullets box, the gangsters of RIAK will finish one by one with HIV/AID; cancer, overweight in the hotels, all criminals who were involved in the attempted coup must put on trial and sentence to death by firing squad, no joke this time, forgiveness has become

            repondre message

            • 13 March 2014 09:38, by Alfredo christiani

              foolishness to warmongers, peoples fade up
              With none stop war in south Sudan since 1991 up to now, to hell with food lovers ,

              repondre message

    • 13 March 2014 16:47, by Bentiu son

      The freedom fighters of SPLA in Opposition has captured Leer County -Unity State yesterday evening. Thereby,Salva Kiir’s pro Gelweng militias/SPLA and their imported hired mercenaries of Darfur rebel JEM,SRF N SPLA- N are on run right now. Freedom fighters oyee, CDR James Koang Chuol oyeee, Bentiu oyeee, RSS oyeeeeeeeee

      repondre message

  • 13 March 2014 07:10, by Ayuiu Makuac Lam

    To. Puot Kang Chol
    please, government is not care about cessation hostility signed in January. Is for sake of the south sudanese community suffering, that forced government to signed it.
    This hostility situation can be followed with rebels till they will call peace through their interest.

    repondre message

  • 13 March 2014 07:42, by Yorwin Otor

    The rebel appears to be putting more osbtacles in the negotiation. It will be better to put off these negotiation since they already put more destructions in terms of human lives and properties.

    repondre message

    • 13 March 2014 16:42, by Bentiu son

      The freedom fighters of SPLA in Opposition has captured Leer County -Unity State yesterday evening. Thereby,Salva Kiir’s pro Gelweng militias/SPLA and their imported hired mercenaries of Darfur rebel JEM,SRF N SPLA- N are on run right now. Freedom fighters oyee, CDR James Koang Chuol oyeee, Bentiu oyeee, RSS oyeeeeeeeee

      repondre message

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