NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Seven South Sudanese political detainees released into President Uhuru Kenyatta’s custody on Wednesday said they bore no ill-will toward their detainer, President Salva Kiir.
John Luk, a former Justice Minister in Kiir’s government, spoke on behalf of the released detainees and said they would now focus their energies on re-uniting the divided nation.
“Our contribution must be very, very positive; we are not for violence in our country. We feel ashamed. We really feel ashamed indeed that our people are getting displaced, that they are dying because of issues that we can resolve,” Luk lamented when presented to the world by President Kenyatta.
The six others who were released into President Uhuru Kenyatta’s custody are: Deng Alor Kuol, Geir Chuang, Cirinio Hiteng, Kosti Manibe, Madut Biar Yel and Chol Tong Mayay.
Four others, Pagan Amum, Oyai Deng Ajak, Majak Agoth and Ezekiel Gatkouth however remain in detention as President Kenyatta vowed to continue to push for their release.
“Some detainees remain in custody. As IGAD Heads of State and Government, we will continue our conversation about them with our brother, President Kiir,” he said.
Their release is however unlikely with South Justice Minister Paulino Wanawila having announced that they will stand trial for treason while three others, including Machar, will also face justice if caught.
Negotiating the release of the detainees was a major feat for President Kenyatta who has been actively involved in the mediation between the warring factions of Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar.
The release of the detainees was among the demands Kenya made of Kiir as they negotiated the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed by representatives of both Kiir and Machar.
“Together we will also discuss how best to establish the urgently needed monitoring and verification mechanism. I urge them to meet their obligations promptly,” President Kenyatta impressed upon them.
After receiving Luk and his fellow detainees, President Kenyatta proceeded to Addis Ababa to attend the 22nd Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union where undoubtedly the situation in South Sudan will be on the agenda.
The majority of the detainees were former members of Kiir’s government but were sacked following wrangles in the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.