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Pagan Amum: South Sudan Officials Threatened Me Over Peace Deal

Pagan Amum, shown here in April 2014 after a South Sudanese judge released him and three others from house arrest, accuses officials in President Salva Kiir's government of threatening him and of stealing the country's resources.

Former South Sudan political detainee Pagan Amum said Tuesday he has been threatened by high-ranking government officials, including President Salva Kiir, for signing the peace deal brokered by IGAD-Plus.

​"The official spokesman of the government, Michael Makuei, has been making those threats, but also Akol Paul (chair of the SPLM Youth League) and others in the government, including President Kiir himself," Amum told South Sudan in Focus by phone from Nairobi.

Amum said the officials have accused him of betraying the government and committing treason by signing the peace agreement on behalf of the former detainees on August 17 in Addis Ababa. None of the officials he named was immediately available for comment.

Riek Machar signed the deal on behalf of the armed opposition on the same day as Amum, but Mr. Kiir did not add his name to the deal until nine days later, saying he had numerous reservations about the agreement and wanted to discuss it with members of his government.

Former detainee

Amum is one of around a dozen officials from the ruling SPLM party who were detained shortly after fighting broke in Juba on December 15, 2013, and accused of plotting to oust Mr. Kiir in a coup.

Most of the detainees were released to the custody of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta after several weeks in detention, but Amum and three others were held for more than four months, during which time they appeared in court on treason charges.

What you have in South Sudan is a kleptocracy, a system of thieves diverting, stealing, looting the resources of the nation and misusing them.
Pagan Amum

While Amum was under house arrest, President Kiir fired him from the position of secretary general of the ruling SPLM. But as part of an agreement to reunify the party, Amum was given his old job back in June this year.

Since then, however, Amum said things have changed. He said President Kiir and "his colleagues are against reunification of the party" and are bleeding South Sudan dry for their own benefit.

"What you have in South Sudan is a kleptocracy, a system of thieves diverting, stealing, looting the resources of the nation and misusing them. This is a dictatorship, a system ... where loyalty is being bought by resources that are being diverted" away from the people," he said.

"This kind of ideology, I do not subscribe to it. This is not the SPLM that I belong to. I'm not part of the system as it is now," Amum said.

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the  South Sudan In Focus radio program.
    Before joining VOA, John worked in Nairobi, Kenya where he established the first independent radio station (Sudan Radio Service) for the people of Sudan. He has covered several civil wars both in Sudan and South Sudan and has been engaged in the production of civic education materials for creating awareness about post conflict issues facing Sudanese and South Sudanese. John has interviewed South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former Vice President Riek Machar, Vice President Wani Igga, leader of Sudan’s Umma Party Sadiq Al Mahdi in addition to other senior United Nations and U.S government officials in South Sudan and Washington. His travels have taken him across to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, DRC Congo and parts East Africa where he reported on the South Sudanese diaspora and the challenges facing them.
    A South Sudanese national, John enjoys listening to music from all over the world, reads academic books, watches documentaries and listens to various radio stations on the internet.  You can follow John on Twitter at @Abusukon