Juba — South Sudan has avoided commenting on an embarrassing incident for two senior officials while they were attending the recent meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The incident first came to light on social media websites but has since been confirmed by a senior diplomat in Juba, who asked not to be named.
The diplomat told Sudan Tribune on the condition of anonymity, that vice-president James Wani Igga and foreign minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin were singled out from the South Sudanese delegation and made to undergo an aggressive and impolite security check on arrival to an airport in the United States from South Sudan, despite showing diplomatic passports to security operatives.
"I could not believe myself that airport security operative, acting in a clear diplomatic embarrassment made our vice-president to undergo aggressive and impolite security check, despite displaying diplomatic passport. He was singled out with the minister of foreign affairs. It was actually deliberate act because they left out members of the team. They did not check Madam Awut Deng Acuil, minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare and finance minister Aggrey Tisa Sabuni", a source who was part of the accompanying delegation told Sudan Tribune on Friday.
The diplomat who is close to Igga said the country's vice-president and the influential foreign affairs minister were made to remove their shoes and told to stand in an isolated place within the entrance gate of the airport lounge before they were subjected to an "aggressive check from head to toe and from arm to arm after which they were impolitely allowed to go without letting him know that the check was completed".
"They did not tell them put on their shoes. They just left them wondering until we have to tell them to do so. The search was carried out just on two of them. We do not know why they did that. It has never happened before to any of our senior government officials visiting United States", he said.
The government has decided not to comment publicly on the issue and it is understood that the two officials did not officially share the incident with their American counterparts in meetings on the sidelines at the United Nations General Assembly.
Some analysts interpret the incident to mean the level of frustration the American government has reached with the government in Juba, in their bid to install a leadership that respects the will of the majority and abides by the constitution, as well as establishing responsible institutions to enhance democracy and good governance.
"The search was done for a reason. I believe it was meant to send strong message to the government that it longer represents the will of our people. Also, they were searched because they were feared of carrying money. You know the London incident, in which Stephen Madut Baak was caught with huge amount of money, four years ago", a government critic who did not want to be identified told Sudan Tribune in Juba.
South Sudan became the 193rd member of the United Nations in 2011 when the country seceded from Sudan in a referendum agreed as part of a 2005 peace deal.