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South Sudan Government: No One Threatened Over Peace Deal

South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei says Pagan Amum (second from left) jeopardized his position as SPLM secretary-general by signing the IGAD-Plus peace deal for South Sudan last month.

South Sudan government spokesman Michael Makuei on Wednesday denied that he or President Salva Kiir threatened ruling party secretary-general Pagan Amum for signing the IGAD-Plus peace deal last month.

But Makuei said that by signing the deal on August 17, on behalf of the group of former detainees, Amum had put the unity of the SPLM - and his senior position in the party - in jeopardy.

"We have never threatened anybody," Makuei told South Sudan in Focus.

"He (Amum) abandoned the SPLM and now he talks about being threatened," he said.

Makuei said efforts to reunify the ruling party, which split into factions when South Sudan plunged into violence in December 2013, were thwarted when President Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar, and Amum all signed the peace deal on behalf of their own branches of the SPLM.

"There is nothing that will bring them together under one umbrella called the SPLM. So what we are saying is that Amum will not be secretary-general again because it is not possible for a secretary-general to share power with the chairman of the party," he said.

Machar signed the peace deal on behalf of the SPLM-in-Opposition on the same day as Amum. President Kiir signed nine days later.​

Accused of treason

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.

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

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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