November 29, 2013 (RUMBEK) – The detention of three chiefs from Rumbek Central county at Langcok military prison is attracting growing disquiet following their arrest last week shortly after they publicly criticised the Lakes state governor.
Rumbek Central county commissioner Abraham Mayen Kuc has admitted that the chiefs have been detained but denies any connection with comments made by the state governor during a meeting on 21 November.
Kuc claimed that one chief was arrested for failing to hand over one of his citizens who is a murder suspect, while the other two arrests were related to administrative matters. He did not provide any further details on the allegations against the chiefs.
However, many of those present at Tuesday’s town hall meeting held at Akon Buoi say that their arrest was due to their strong stance against governor Matur Chuot Dhuol, who is alleged to have made disparaging comments about women from their community while visiting the Malek area earlier this month.
Lakes state MP David Kockedhie Puoudak has demanded that authorities immediately release the detained chiefs, despite Kuc’s protestations that the government does not arrest people who “talk badly” about the governor.
Puoudak said their detention was “unlawful” and a “setback” to the normalisation of inter-clan relations between the communities of Rumbek Central county.
On Wednesday morning, the sitting of Lakes state’s parliament was adjourned after MPs clashed over security matters.
Puoudak told the house the arrest and ongoing detention of the chiefs is a “violation of the constitution”.
The MP added that creating prisons without the approval of the parliament and central government is an act of oppressive rule.
“Authorities should apply the rule of law in accordance and [the] public should also respond to respect the rule of law”, he said.
Langcok military prison is located in the northern part of Rumbek Central county. It was set up in February this year by the Lakes state government a month after Dhoul was appointed to replace elected governor Chol Tong Mayay, who was removed by South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir.
Human rights activists and those who have been released from Langcok complain that the prison is used to mistreat and torture inmates.
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