Juba — South Sudan's Vice President, Riek Machar, has strongly condemned the kidnapping and torture of a leading anti-corruption activist, saying those responsible for the crime should be brought to book as soon as possible.
Deng Athuai, the chairman of South Sudan Civil Society Alliance, was kidnapped last week by unknown people after he led a campaign demanding that the government released names of 75 corrupt senior officials the President of the Republic wrote to and asked to return the stolen money amounting to $4 billion in total.
Athuai was lured into a car in the evening near his resident, blindfolded and driven for several kilometres outside the capital, Juba, where he was tied inside a sack, severely beaten and left unconscious. He later on regained consciousness and was rescued by passerby soldiers who heard him screaming inside the sack beside the road in the forest at night and brought him to the hospital in the town.
Speaking to thousands of people in Juba on Saturday who gathered for a thanksgiving prayer organized by the church in the name of Deng Athuai, Vice President, Riek Machar, said those who nearly killed Athuai were trying to intimidate and blackmail anti-corruption and human rights activists in the country.
Machar said Athuai had done no wrong in campaigning for action against corrupt officials, adding that anti-corruption activist was supporting the statement and letter of the President as well as the resolution of the national parliament on the matter.
The parliament had passed a resolution calling on the president to suspend all the officials who received from him the letter suspecting them of corruption.
The country must learn to apply the rule of law and respect human rights, Machar said, adding that if anybody felt that Athuai did something wrong by campaigning against corruption he or she should have taken him to court.
Athuai who was present during the thanksgiving prayer told the large crowd that God spared his life because he had done nothing wrong and announced that he had forgiven those who nearly killed him.
Awut Deng Acuil, a member of parliament and one of the senior officials who received the letter on corruption from the President, decried the attempt on the life of Deng Athuai, and appealed to the government to quickly bring to book those responsible for the crime.
Acuil and the former minister of petroleum in Khartoum, Lual Deng, were the only two among the more than 75 officials who publicly announced that they received the confidential letter from the President and asked the rest of their colleagues to reveal their identities.
Machar informed the gathering that investigations were going on and that a final report would soon com
The Souith Sudanese vice-president also called on the churches in the country to always condemn corruption and educate people about how bad it is during their gatherings and prayers.