Kiir told to show commitment by releasing detainees

Saturday August 4 2018

President Uhuru Kenyatta welcomes former South Sudan political detainees

President Uhuru Kenyatta welcomes former South Sudan political detainees at State House, Nairobi in 2015. PHOTO | NMG 

By FRED OLUOCH
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As the warring parties in South Sudan prepare to sign a final peace deal on August 5, President Salva Kiir is under pressure from the opposition, the civil society and influential US senators to release thousands of citizens who have been detained without trial for years.

Since the war began in 2013, several youth groups, prominent political and human rights activists, prominent business people and journalists have been arrested and detained without charge and without access to family members and lawyers.

The latest to be arrested is Peter Biar Ajak, a political commentator and prominent activist. He was arrested on July 28 by national security officials at Juba Airport while preparing to fly to Aweil.

Mr Ajak has maintained his view that the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement war veterans have failed the country and will not bring peace and ought to give room to the younger generation.

US senators Cory Booker (New Jersey), a top Democrat on the subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, and the Senator Chris Coons (Delaware) of the Foreign Relations Committee, issued a strong statement on August 1 urging President Kiir to release Mr Ajak.

Meanwhile, Gen Thomas Cirillo Swaka, the former army Deputy Chief of General Staff for Logistics who resigned from the Kiir government in February 2017, has refused to accept the chapter on governance and power sharing, saying that it does not include a federal system.

Gen Swaka wants more powers devolved to the states in a manner that the national government cannot interfere with. Gen Sakwa leads the National Salvation Front, which is part of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance.

President Uhuru Kenyatta — who is the rapporteur of the collapsed 2015 agreement — will host President Kiir and Dr Machar, minus the negotiating group to iron out outstanding issues on implementation.

After the meeting in Nairobi, the three will travel to Khartoum for the final signing, which the region hopes would bring an end to the fighting that has killed thousands, displaced millions and affected neighbouring countries.

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