S. Sudan accuses ex-detainees of “double standards” in peace deal

August 31, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan government has accused the country’s former political detainees of playing double standards in ongoing efforts to fully implement the August 2015 peace agreement.

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President Kenyatta with 7 South Sudanese former detainees, Rebecca Garang, his son and Dalmas Otieno special envoy for the peace process 12 February 2014

The information minister Michael Makuei Lueth said most of the former detainees were against the Juba government yet they are represented in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU).

The former detainees are a group of high level South Sudan ruling party (SPLM) leaders who were arrested, but later released at the start of the country’s civil war in December 2013 before they went into exile in the neighbouring countries.

“Last time I stated clearly also that the former detainees must clarify their positions. And I am repeating this again and calling up on former detainees who are here with [us] to clarify their positions. Their leaders and others are there campaigning against the very government in which they are members. So they should decide,” Lueth told reporters in the South Sudanese capital, Juba on Thursday.

He added, “They [former detainees] are either with the government or go. If they are with the government they should denounce all what is happening over there. Otherwise let them join them”.

The former detainees were allocated the foreign affairs and agriculture and forestry ministries and deputy foreign affairs post in the coalition government.

The outspoken government official said the Juba government would continue to accept unclear positions on matters relating to the peace agreement by those against the regime and yet they are fully represented in the same government they are campaigning against.

“There is no middle way. This is the situation. If Pagan [former secretary general of the ruling party] who is the signatory to the agreement can now start [to] campaign against the very agreement in which he is a signatory, then what are we doing?” asked Lueth.

Majority of the ex-detainees, he stressed, are against government.

“Then these three [ministers in the coalition government] who are here, what are they doing. We want clear stand on this. This double standard will not help any longer. There is no middle way. You are either with the agreement or not with the agreement,” he added.

Last month, the South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir and a group of the country’s former political detainees officially agreed to reaffirm their commitments to the reunification of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in order to end the ongoing conflict.

The officials also agreed that uniting the SPLM was paramount and vital for bringing peace as well as uniting the people of South Sudan.

They also agreed, during the July meeting, “to expedite the implementation of the Arusha agreement which is the agreement that addresses differences that arose among SPLM leaders in 2013”.

South Sudan was plunged into conflict in December 2013 as the rivalry between Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar, turned into a civil war. The fighting, which has often been along ethnic lines, triggered Africa’s worst refugee crisis, with over two million people displaced.