South Sudan Rebels say released 72 Kenya nationals after directive from Leader Riek Machar

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A top official from South Sudan opposition, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO)-under exiled leader Riek Machar said they released 72 Kenya national following a directive from their leader.

Goanar Gordon Yien, secretary in Machar’s office was quoted by plural news website Sudan Tribune saying the Kenyans were aid workers from different organisations in rebel controlled areas and had been detained by SPLM-IO field commanders and governors.

Their detention was in response to the arrest and deportation of Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak by Kenya.

Dak who was arrested from his residence in an upscale suburb in capital Nairobi and handed over to Juba is currently held by South Sudan security operatives and has reportedly been denied to speak to anyone including his lawyers and family members.

“We heard he is safe but for us we are not sure .We are concerned about his situation. We can’t trust Juba government”, said Yien.

Armed opposition spokesperson Major Dickson Gatluak told Kenya’s Daily Nation ewspaper from Ethiopia that the rebel group will target Kenya national living and working in rebel controlled areas if Juba government harms James Gatdet.

“If they do anything to harm Gatdet we will also deal with Kenyans in our territories,” Gatluak said.

There has been reports of targeted violence on Kenyan aid workers since Dak’s deportation including the confiscation of passports.

Yien said the aid workers were freed on Machar’s directive who reportedly said the Kenyans were innocent of the action of their government.

He urged the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and East African regional bloc (IGAD) member states to put pressure on Juba government for his immediate release.

UNHCR said Friday that it was “deeply concerned about the well-being” of Dak and said his extradition appeared to violate his right to protection under the international refugee convention.

Dak, who is also a United States citizen, was deported after he posted a statement on Facebook welcoming United Nations Secretary General’s decision to dismiss it’s peacekeeping boss in South Sudan, Lt. General. Johnson Mogoa Kimani.

Credit: Sudan Tribune