South Sudan opposition leader says under 'house arrest'

AFP , Friday 24 Apr 2015

Lam Akol
Lam Akol (Photo: AP)

A South Sudanese opposition leader who has spoken out against both sides in the civil war said Friday he appeared to have been placed under house arrest.

Opposition politician Lam Akol said his home in the capital Juba, which is under the control of the government loyal to President Salva Kiir, was surrounded by security personnel during the night.

"My house was surrounded by security forces last night and they closed the road leading to the house. But nobody has come inside to tell me directly if I am under house arrest or anything," he told AFP by telephone from inside his home.

"It is not pleasant, it is scary," Akol said.

South Sudan's government, however, dismissed the complaint, with government spokesman Michael Makuei accusing Akol of attention-seeking.

"If we want to arrest him, I will take him to prison. These are his usual claims," Makuei said.

Akol is the leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) party, and has spoken out against both Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, whose forces have been at war since December 2013.

On Friday the National Alliance, a coalition of 18 political parties that Akol heads, condemned what it called "a gross violation of individual freedoms" at a press conference in Juba.

"This is a politically motivated move directed against the leadership of the National Alliance and we call upon the government to stand up to its responsibilities and order these forces to withdraw forthwith," said Martin Aligo, the coalition's secretary-general.

Akol is a former warlord who fought on both sides during Sudan's 1983-2005 civil war. He comes from Upper Nile State where ethnic rebels have recently been engaged in fighting with government troops.

Akol's party was blocked by the government from taking part in peace talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and the opposition leader has accused both Kiir and Machar of not being interested in peace.

South Sudan's civil war broke out when Kiir accused Machar, who had been sacked as vice president, of attempting a coup.

The war that is devastating the world's youngest nation has killed tens of thousands of people, and left over half of the country's 12 million people in need of aid, according to the United Nations.The peace talks, brokered by regional powers, collapsed in March.

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