Security authorities in South Sudan arrested two activists on Wednesday amid claims that they were among individuals behind a planned demo to call for the ouster of President Salva Kiir.
The duo are staff of the Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG), a local lobby, which reported the arrests on social media.
“Two people visited my office three times since morning looking for me. The fourth time, they stormed the FODAG office with more than ten soldiers and arrested two of my staff,” Jame Kolok, who heads FODAG, posted on his official Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon.
“I don’t know where they have been taken. My staff, like me, are innocent and should not be victimised because of my activism.”
But South Sudan’s deputy police spokesperson, Col James Dak, said he wasn’t aware of the arrests.
“I am not aware of the arrest, but I will find out tomorrow (Thursday) whether the arrest was done by us or by some organised members such as the National Security, who also carry out arrests,” he said.
Kolok previously denied that his organisation was among parties that planned to hold protests on August 30.
“While, I have consistently spoken out on numerous issues including the recent arrest of activists Justoson Victor and Bishop Jackson Yemba in Yei and the rest, I would like to clarify that the information in the article claiming my organisation was among those that called for protest is inaccurate,” he said on Tuesday.
“I still believe there are those who would be taking advantage of such errors to justify their unfounded crackdown.”
Crackdown on activists
The arrests are just the latest in what appears to be a crackdown on activists protesting President Kiir’s tenure in office.
Last month, Abraham Awolic and Rajab Mohandis, who co-founded the People Coalition on Civil Action, said they were on the run after issuing a declaration asking Mr Kiir and his associates to hand over power to those with vision.
On Monday this week, a South Sudanese activist said he and four others had gone into hiding, abandoning plans for an anti-government protest after authorities warned of a tough crackdown.
The demos were set to take place the same day President Kiir inaugurated the national parliament – a significant symbol of the 2018 peace accord.
However, the protests didn’t occur. It’s not yet clear whether protesters were scared off by armed security forces on patrol in Juba that day.