News / Africa

South Sudan to Release ‘Political’ Detainees on Friday

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir attends a session during the 25th Extraordinary Summit of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on South Sudan in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, March 13, 2014.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir attends a session during the 25th Extraordinary Summit of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on South Sudan in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, March 13, 2014.
Peter Clottey
South Sudan said it will release all political detainees on Friday accused of plotting to overthrow President Salva Kiir’s government after the administration decided to drop the charges against them, according to presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny.

The detainees include Pagan Amum, Secretary General of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Majak D’Agot, Oyai Deng Ajak and Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth. 

Ateny says the government’s decision is part of a bid to expedite the peace negotiations between representatives of the administration and the rebels in neighboring Ethiopia to help resolve the country’s conflict.

“The cabinet has decided to stay the case,” said Ateny. “These are the powers given to the minister of justice under what is called Criminal Procedures Act of 2008 that the minister of justice can order the stay of the case. It means the case is frozen and the people accused can be released indefinitely. This was done [in] the interest of peace.”

The rebels have demanded the release of the detainees as one of their main conditions at the talks. At least ten-thousand people have been killed in the conflict and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.

Ateny says the rebels can no longer use the alleged coup plotters detention as pretext to stall the peace negotiations.

“This is actually significant that the issue of the four suspects of the coup attempt cannot be used by any party as a ploy to stay away from negotiating in good faith,” said Ateny. “So it will not remain as another condition in [the] negotiation. It will bridge the gap between the two parties that are negotiating in Addis Ababa.”

Some political analysts say the government’s decision could have been influenced by pressure from the international community following the recent massacre of South Sudanese who sought refuge at a United Nations compound. The attack at the UN compound left at least 60 people dead and scores injured.

Ateny says the government decision is part of an effort to end the conflict.

“The international community has been calling and we have seen as a government to let us try to release these people if it can give chance for peace to come to South Sudan,” said Ateny.

Ateny denied reports that the decision to release the accused coup plotters was politically motivated. He says once released, the accused could not be re-arrested on the same charges and could be free to participate in any political activity of their choice.

“They cannot be arrested,” said Ateny. “The stay of the case can also pave the way for a presidential amnesty. But, now the four suspects of the coup attempt would be free on Friday,” he said.

Some analysts have questioned the timing of the release of the detainees. They contend that the government could have avoided the loss of lives and property if the alleged coup plotters had been released earlier to help end the conflict. Ateny defended the government decision.

“They were arrested based on the coup attempt. So this is the right time for the suspects to be released for the interest of peace,” said Ateny.
Clottey interview with Ateny Wek Ateny, presidential spokesperson
Clottey interview with Ateny Wek Ateny, presidential spokespersoni
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Comment Sorting
by: Markova Stepheno Marle from: Juba
April 25, 2014 10:06 AM
After what? When innocent civilian lost there lives in these meaning less war,any way we see what it bring for our country South Sudan,Oh! God have mercy on us.

by: David from: United State.
April 25, 2014 9:47 AM
Yes! Now the world knows the truth. But after death of more than ten thousand people for what purpose? Lack of education, knowledge and sense. I hope someone would make sure Mr. president takes responsibility for the decease. Innocent young south Sudanese.
Thank God those men are release.

by: gatwch luk thach from: khartuom
April 25, 2014 7:02 AM
I think it is now clear to the world that salva kiir as failed to leader the government of the Republic of south sudan by imposing a coup with No evident to his government officialls.go ,go salva kiir',ahahah what a failed leader is salva kiir.

by: Deng from: USA
April 25, 2014 5:59 AM
I think it was a good news to all people are of south sudan specially the relative of detainees,who think they will n't see their love one again. Now is clear to all world that government of south sudan was lied aboit coup attempted, so no coup attempted thousand died. Who should be responsible for charges of war crime against humanity.

by: Adut Martin Majok Khon from: Wau
April 25, 2014 5:54 AM
That is agood step forward in searching for peace and restoring agood relations with international community as before,many thanks to our government of s.sudan and minister of justice for releasing all those four political detainese

by: Nyakor from: US
April 24, 2014 5:02 PM
First of all I think this is a good step, even though its not the right time, as mentioned in the interview. There wasn't a coup attempt, the problem in south sudan is that the government does not want to be corrected because they want everyone to follow their opinions. If you suggest something, they frame it into "an attempted coup" because no one has freedom of speech. According to this interview, if im not wrong, it sounds like they will be released tomorrow, but you forgot another thing: could you send the ugandans back to their country tomorrow also? Because those are the two biggest issues, that need to be solved for a peace treaty. Thanks
In Response

by: Nyakor from: US
April 25, 2014 9:24 PM
To: Wenyin of Canda, I am not trying to change your opinion because you guys will never change no matter what, and because that is how you were made. Im pretty sure you don't know what the characteristics of a good government/ leadership are: It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive, and follows the rule of law. If you have difficulties with english, please use your dictionary because you need to understand what good leadership is.

The root cause that motivated the white army to join is from the killings of their fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers in Juba. The proliferation (spreading) of the killings and conflicts to the other cities: Bor, Bentiu, Malakal etc., all started in Juba. Nobody is happy about it. The death of dinkas, nuers, and other tribes- no one is happy about it at all, but we have to correct something if we want our country to get better. We have to accept the truth so that we can do something about it.
Proverbs 15:32 (NCV)
Those who refuse correction hate themselves,
but those who accept correction gain understanding.
1 John 3:15 (NCV)
Everyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer,[a] and you know that no murderers have eternal life in them.

Let us love one another, May God bless you and all of southern sudanese to know that God is a God of all, and He created all of the tribes. God bless you.
In Response

by: wenyin from: canada
April 24, 2014 11:18 PM
Not so fast, Ugandans's Force, must not leave untill South Sudanese Government is sure that the Arabs North, is not supplying warlord Riek Machar and his tribesmen. The killing of Dinkas and other tribesmen around Unity State, if you are following the latest massacre by the White Army, would make you thank Ugandan's Army for intervening to rescue all South Sudanese from a planned genocide which began to be clear to the whole world now. It wasn't Salva Kiir, the pure ellected president's mistake to sucide the next generations of Nuer, but, it was and shall always be Riek Machar [ a Nuer ] making. Going against the odd, like fighting 63 Tribes is unthinkable. Even Nazism couldn't wibe all Jews from the earth, though they massacerd millions, Jews are chewing goodies in Israel today. Every time GOSS give up what the rebels and their Jangaweed wants, more massacres ensue. No more of those tricks, stop your Nuer racism or face Manu Dura from the rest of the 63 tribes. That is it.

by: Nipee from: Paris
April 24, 2014 3:50 PM
Thief's Pagan.
Have credit to be forgive as he stated in a court hearing, I'll works with President Kirr, Vice president Wani & South Sudan people to ended this Riak senseless war! SG Pagan have no link to the coup, but personal problems with President. We all love each other and United against enemy of peace in SOUTH SUDAN. There was a couple plotted by Rick, Taban & Lado

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