The SPLM-IO Secretary-General said she is concerned with “the continuous” harassment of her fellow party members and supporters across the country.
Regina Joseph Kaba, cited the recent detention of some SPLM-IO members by security forces in Lakes State.
Kaba had led a delegation to Rumbek town for a political event last week, when some of her team members were arrested upon their arrival in the area.
The Chairperson of the state Human Rights Commission Malok Makol Bol was among those briefly detained.
Kaba said their supporters were wearing an SPLM-IO blue T-shirt when they were apprehended, an allegation Lakes State government spokesperson denied.
She called on the SPLM-IG to allow freedom of expression and open political space, as enshrined in both the revitalized peace agreement and the interim constitution.
“What we noticed in Lakes, is really a very limited political space, it started with the arrest of the chairperson of the human rights commission, and then the detention of some of the MPs who are IO members and in blue,” said Regina.
She also stressed that people have the right to choose their political parties without interference of the security apparatus.
“People in blue were arrested just because they belong to SPLM-IO. So, we are really calling upon the Lakes state government to open the political space for the citizens.”
“We are all parties to this agreement, so we are really calling upon them and to all the states to open up the political space.”
According to the Deputy Minister of Finance Agok Makur, some of their supporters were also rounded up and taken to unknown location, an allegation confirmed by the state information minister.
William Kwoji, who the state government spokesperson, appointed by SPLM, confirmed the arrest and harassment of opposition members.
He, however said, the incident was triggered by disagreement between security organs and SPLM-IO members who wanted to slaughter a bull at the airport.
“There were issues in the airport, it is an incident that a bull was to be slaughtered for the coming visitors, but here in the state, it has been a policy that bulls are only slaughtered when the president is the one coming or the governor,” he said.
The official termed the incident a debate that has been resolved.
“So this is what caused the debate between the security members and those who were struggling to slaughter the bull. Otherwise, one of the guys was taken briefly, and based on the directive of the governor, he was released immediately.”
Months Before the incident, the SPLM-IO Commissioner of Yirol West County resigned from his position due to “humiliation” by the state Governor, Rin Tueny.
On the contrary, the SPLM Party also accused the main opposition SPLM-IO of blcoking it from campaigning in some counties under the control of its commanders, an accusation Machar’s party refuted.
Article 24 of the South Sudan Transitional Constitution states that every citizen shall have the right to the freedom of expression, reception, and dissemination of information, publication, and access to the press without prejudice to public order, safety or morals as prescribed by law.
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