NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – The government has deported Riek Machar’s spokesman James Gatdek Dak following his arrest in Nairobi on Wednesday.
Gatdek was subsequently arrested on arrival in Juba, sparking anger in Machar’s Sudanese People Liberation Movement In the Opposition (SPLM (IO)) which is demanding his release.
There was no official communication from police or the Kenyan government on why he was arrested in Nairobi, but reports indicate that he was picked up soon after issuing a statement supporting the sacking of a Kenyan peacekeeping Force Commander Johnson Ondieki by the UN.
SPLM(IO) issued a statement condemning the arrest both in Juba and Nairobi, terming the deportation as a violation of the Geneva Convention.
“The deportation of Mr James Gatdet Dak is a violation of the Geneva Convention. Moreover, the Kenyan Government is a guarantor to the peace agreement that was signed in August 2015 and we do not expect that it would put in danger the life of an innocent person. The SPLM (IO) therefore condemns this act in the strongest terms possible,” it stated.
It pointed out that attempts to prevent the deportation fell on deaf ears even after telephone conversations with top government officials including Deputy President William Ruto.
“The office of the representative of SPLM (IO) was informed that the order of the arrest came from the government. The Chairman of SPLM (IO) was informed about the development and he immediately contacted the Kenyan Authorities,” the statement indicated.
“On a telephone conversation with the Deputy President H.E. William Ruto, he appealed that Mr. James Gatdet Dak should not be deported to Juba due to profound fear for his life. He also spoke to the Attorney General and attempted to speak with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.”
It further indicated that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also made serious efforts to reverse the decision to deport Gatdet but without success.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday affirmed the decision to withdraw its troops and disengage fully from the South Sudan Peace Process saying that Kenya is committed to regional and global peace but that should not come at the expense of the country’s dignity, honour and pride.
President Kenyatta accused the United Nations of “scapegoating” Kenyan soldiers for the failings of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
The United Nations on the other hand pointed out that it respected Kenya’s decision to pull troops out of South Sudan to consult the government on withdrawal modalities following protests over sacking of the force commander.
A UN official told Capital FM News that they will now welcome the Kenyan government for consultations on the withdrawal modalities.
Kenya earlier wrote to the UN, expressing its displeasure at the manner in which Ondieki was sacked.
In the statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Kenya accused the UN of failing to follow protocol in its decision, leading to the protest in which 1200 troops were withdrawn.