An official of the Southern Sudanese government says the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is disappointed over the brief arrest and release of three key members of the party following a protest.
Ezekiel Lol Gathkuoth, head of the Government of Southern Sudan Mission to the United States, says the arrests show intimidation tactics employed by President Omar Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) ahead of next year’s national election.
“This is very unfortunate and the SPLM is very disappointed… and it is actually a clear case that the election is not going to be free and fair in 2010 because the National Congress Party are so determined to maintain their grip to power and they will continue to detain and arrest people,” he said.
Supporters of the SPLM went on the rampage, torching offices of the NCP shortly after the arrest of the three key party members following a pro-reform demonstration Monday.
Gatkuoth condemned the vandalism.
“This is unacceptable, and we condemn this act. We don’t want this to happen. We want freedom of expression and we are just basically expressing our freedom and rights peacefully,” Gatkuoth said.
Before Monday’s pro-reform demonstration, police announced the planned protests were illegal. But Gatkuoth said the SPLM acquired permission from the right authorities before embarking on the demonstration.
“You know we (had) secured proper documentation for this demonstration to take place from the police, from the security, from the minister for internal affairs, and from all the government organs. It is the NCP which decided last night that the demonstration cannot be conducted, and they declared Monday as a holiday, which is not the case in Sudan,” Gatkuoth said.
Meanwhile, the leader of the SPLM, Salva Kiir, who doubles as the Vice President of Sudan, said the arrests undermine the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the decade’s civil war between the North and the South.