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Sudan Tribune

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SPLM former detainees finally return to Juba

November 27, 2015 (JUBA) – Exiled South Sudanese politicians and senior officials of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), including Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, wife of late John Garang de Mabior, the SPLM party founder, have returned to Juba, ending nearly two years in exile, pledging that this return was their final and would not run away again.

Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior (ST File Photo)
Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior (ST File Photo)
Nyandeng, who fled the country to Kenya in December 2013 wept at the tomb of her late husband upon her Friday’s arrival in Juba and led an emotion prayer for supporters and a group of 10 SPLM leaders, also known as former political detainees, whose their leader, Pagan Amum declined to return with them.

“I will never leave your [Garang] side and I will never leave your people and you know that and I know you are with me all the time,” said Nyandeng as she kissed a portrait of her late husband at his tomb in Juba.

“I came with all the blessings. I came with the sons; sons of this land who fought vigorously for this country,” she told reporters afterwards, referring to the SPLM leaders who fought alongside John Garang during the 1983 – 2005 Sudan war.

President Salva Kiir fell out with Nyandeng and other senior members of the SPLM in 2013 in a competition for the ruling SPLM party leadership. President Kiir arrested eleven of them at the onset of the conflict and accused them of coup d’état and treason, charges dropped by court as lacking evidence after spending months in detention. They fled to Kenya through assistance of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta.

The returning group comprise of former minister of telecommunications and postal services, Madut Biar Yel, former deputy defence minister, Majak Agot, former cabinet affairs minister, Deng Alor, former justice minister, John Luk Jok, former finance minister, Kosti Manibe, former presidential advisor, Rebeca Nyandeng de Mabior, former minister of national security, Oyay Deng Ajak, former minister of youth Cirino Hiteng, former governor of Lakes state, Chol Tong Mayay and former minister of transport, roads and bridges, Gier Chuang Aluong.

With the exception of Nyandeng, Agot and Oyai who just returned to Juba for the first time since their release, the rest of the SPLM leaders returned to Juba in July this year only to exit the country again back to Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. This would be their second return after self-imposed exile.

Returning on Friday for the first time since she left the country in 2013 to participate in the launching of the office of the Joint Monitoring and evaluation commission (JMEC) which is mandated to monitor and oversee the implementation of the IGAD brokered peace agreement between president Kiir and opposition leader, Riek Machar, Nyandeng said she was returning home as the mother of the nation because peace was what the people had been yearning for all this time.

“Peace is for the people of South Soudan, peace is for needy people of South Sudan. And I am here as a mother of people of South Sudan, all of us came, we are bringing peace, there is nothing else that we are bringing,” Nyandeng told reporters in her first free interview with journalists in the country.

Previously, South Sudanese government under president Kiir issued a vile of rage and threatens banning South Sudanese journalists and media inside the country from interviewing her and members of the armed opposition forces under the leadership of the former vice president, Machar, after Nyandeng was vocal in the media accusing president Kiir of dictatorship and massacring members of the ethnic Nuer community in the capital, Juba.

However, Nyandeng on Friday expressed commitment of her team to implementing the peace agreement without fear of intimidation.
“We ask God, Jesus Christ, to give us all the strength so that we implement this peace,” she lamented.

However, the leader of the former detainees, Pagan Amum, who was the SPLM’s secretary general, but removed and then reinstated, and again his position dissolved, had remained in exile.

Analysts attribute the cause of his absence to fear of his safety after several leading government officials exhibited negative attitudes towards him after accusing him of backtracking on the implementation of the reunification agreement of the party which permitted him to be reinstated to his position as the secretary general of the ruling SPLM, accusing him of signing the peace agreement on 17 August on behalf of his group and alongside opposition leader, Machar, despite hesitations and reservations put forth by president Kiir, his party chairman.

Former justice minister, John Luk Jok, who speaks for the group said they have finally come back home.

“We have come home finally,” said Jok, upon arrival at Juba airport on Friday.

“As a result of the peace agreement that was signed and finalized in Ethiopia there are no further negotiations in Ethiopia. What is left for us is to implement what we had agreed. And therefore it requires that all of us are in South Sudan,” he added.

He said their leader, Amum, could not return with them not because of fear, but because he was on a visit to his family in the United States of America.


The former detainees including Nyandeng, many of whom are senior members of the party’s highest political organs, the political bureau and the national liberation council, however received a low profile reception as no senior party leader was available to receive them on Friday.

The group was instead received by government officials who are low ranking officials in the ruling party, including information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, and deputy foreign affairs minister, Peter Bashir Gbandi, who received the senior party leaders on behalf of the party and the government.

Minister Lueth, who spoke for the government as its spokesman told reporters that Nyadeng and her colleagues were coming to the country to participate in the launching and inauguration of the joint monitoring and evaluation commission’s office to jump start their activities for the first time since formation.

“This is a team that is coming here to come and participate and help in the implementation of the agreement. So we highly welcome them and the government of the Republic of South Sudan is happy to receive them back,” said Lueth of the purpose of the visit of the leaders without giving additional comments.