11 October 2012

South Sudan Threatens Opposition SPLM-DC With Ban Over Rebel Link Allegations

Juba — South Sudan has issued a "stern" warning to opposition party Sudan People's Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), asserting that it could be banned from registration if it does not clear itself of allegations that it provides support to armed dissidents fighting the government.

"Party politics is open. Anybody can create a party as they wish," vice president Riek Machar said in a speech in the US on 6 October, explaining that he has told SPLM-DC members that if Lam Akol is still their leader and allegations that he is supporting armed rebels are true he will not be able to register, "because the law says, no party will have an army."

During a Diaspora meeting in his visit to Nebraska, US, Machar stressed the need for political parties to adhere to constitutional requirements.

Akol was a high ranking member of the Sudan People's Liberation Army rebels which fought the Khartoum government until a peace agreement was signed in 2005, paving the way for South Sudanese independence in 2011. He also served as minister of foreign affairs in the Khartoum government.

Machar called upon those in contact with Akol to ask him to come forward and clear his name.

The senior member of the country's governing Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) added that the SPLM-DC will fail the registration if there is substantial evidence that proves the accusations are founded. He also denied claims that Akol is being threatened.

"Nobody is threatening Lam, but Lam is being accused of supporting armed rebellions and by law, if you raise arms against state, you're committing treason," he explained.

The SPLM-DC's acting secretary general, Sisto Olur Erista, in a release extended to Sudan Tribune on 10 October, said it was not the first time senior members of the country's governing Sudan People's Liberation Movement have accused the opposition of supporting armed dissidents.

Erista claimed that such allegations have persisted since the inception of the SPLM-DC in 2009 and that they are a "convenient tool" for the SPLM "to intimidate our would-be supporters and scare off some weak-kneed members of the party."

He also said that Machar's remarks should be reserved for a court of law as they currently suggest a presumption of guilt, "which runs counter to our accepted principle of justice that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty."

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