Sudan: SPLM Youth Leader Arrested in Border State

Wau — The leader of the youth wing of South Sudan's governing Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the border state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal was arrested on Sunday night, according to youth members and relatives.

Garang Valentino Wol Kon Amoi told Sudan Tribune from the detention centre where he is being held that he was arrested while on the way to his house from Aweil town, capital of the state.

"I have no idea of why I have been brought here. I do not know what I have done to be arrested. They just got me and declared that I am arrested. And because I do not to want cause chaos I complied", Amoi told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

The state government has not released any official statement and Sudan Tribune has not been able to independently verify the possible cause of Amoi's arrest.

However, friends and relatives claim he is accused by some elements of the state administration of failing to relax his campaign against the inclusion of a key border area in the Safe Demilitarized Buffer Zone (SDBZ) South Sudan agreed to create on the border with Sudan in September.

The border area, known as Mile 14 due to its size, was controversially part of the buffer zone negotiated in the Cooperation Agreement between the two sides under African Union mediation.

The demilitarised border zone is aimed at easing tensions between Sudan and the South, which seceded in 2011, as part of a 2005 peace deal, creating the world's newest international border.

Much the oil-rich and fertile border remains is yet to be demarcated, with many disputed areas, including Abyei, claimed by both sides

Police sources in the border state have told Sudan Tribune that they were acting on instructions from figures in "high authority", without giving details of individuals or the position of those who ordered Amoi's arrest, which appears to have occurred without a warrant or letter of arrest.

N. Bahr el Ghazal's Deputy Governor, Madut Dut Yel, reportedly told relatives that he received a call from the youth leader about his arrest and has directed relevant the security services to investigate the cause and report back to him.

Amoi's arrest on Sunday came after he organised a successful youth meeting attended by various N. Bahr el Ghazal youth groups, including women's organisations, calling for the promotion of peace, unity, tolerance and reconciliation among citizens and neighbouring communities.

Although the area enjoys relative peace, citizens and some members of parliament have long blamed the state administration for failing to address concerns relating to arbitrary arrests by security forces, who are often accused of acting on directives by individuals in the administration as a means to silence critics.

Nine political opponents were arrested in March 2011 on allegations that they participated in the drafting of a memo which was circulated in Aweil protests against the state administration.

The opponents including military officers, all of them members of the former rebel movement turned governing party, spent three months behind bars before being released without charges a month before the secession of the former southern region of Sudan on July 2011.

The recent controversy caused by the inclusion of Mile 14 in the buffer zone with Sudan, however, appeared to have reconciled many of the internal political differences with the state.

Critics of the state administration are among those to have given strong backing to the reservations raised by Northern Bahr el Ghazal Governor, Paul Malong Awan, who has questioned why the area was included in the SDBZ. Awan has argued that Mile 14 has never been an area in contention with Sudan and vowed to fight anyone who tried to take the border away from his state.

N. Bahr el Ghazal Youth Call For Peace and Reconciliation

Ahead of Amoi's arrest, youth groups from the border state stepped up campaigns calling for the promotion of peace, love, tolerance, unity and reconciliation amongst people in the area and with neigbouring communities across its border with Sudan.

The call made at a meeting organised by Amoi in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) youth wing in the state.

Before his arrest, Amoi described the gathering as a very important event during which youth were able to interact with their peers to talk about their activities and how to work together with other groups in the area.

Amoi said different speakers repeatedly emphasized on the need to promote peace, love, unity, tolerance and reconciliation.

"We did not do it during Christmas and so it was the opportunity to come together. The important message everybody has gone with it from the meeting is the need to promote peace, unity, tolerance and reconciliation. Many people repeatedly made emphasis on it", he explained.

Mayuol Diing, the Secretary General of SPLM Youth League in the state told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the gathering was called with support from Northern Bahr el Ghazal's Governor, Paul Malong Awan.

"It was warmly attended by [a] good number of youth groups. We had county chairpersons and secretaries. We also had participants from other political organizations in the state."

"I must thank Governor Malong because it was him who made it possible. Without him we would not have succeeded", Diing said, adding that the meeting emphasized the need for unity and reconciliation.

"We were not calling for unity and reconciliation because we know people who have differences but because we know year is long it may be some people may have missed each other over something. With the New Year, it will be good if such things are left to go so that we begin again because there a lot of things we need to do together as a community", he explained.

Young people, defined as being between 18 and 40 years old in South Sudan, make up 70% of the young nation's eight million population, according to a 2008 census.

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