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S. Sudanese presidency denies opposition claims of arrests, torture

November 1, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese presidency has dismissed reports alleging over 90 intellectuals and commentators from the Equatoria region have been arrested and tortured by government agents acting on president Salva Kiir’s directive.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny speaks to journalists in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, after the signing of a series of media bills into law on 9 September 2014 (ST)

“I want to say that what has been reported is incorrect. It is untrue, unfounded and misleading reports. The president of the republic will never lower himself down to the point of ordering arrest of people he does not know, presidential spokesperson,” Ateny Wek Ateny told Sudan Tribune on Saturday

“There is no single truth in these reports. These are fabrications intended by the rebels of Riek Machar to cause confusion among the people of Equatoria who provides 99.9% support to the president,” he added.

The presidential aide said Equatorias fully understand the actual cause of the conflict and would oppose any unconstitutional and undemocratic means to ascend to power.

On Friday, Oyet Nathaniel Pierino, a member of the SPLM in Opposition, accused the Juba regime of allegedly arresting and torturing civilians over calls for federalism in the country and demanded that government’s actions on people be properly investigated.

Ateny also admitted that some youth from Eastern Equatoria state were arrested on allegations they were involved in submissive activities and plotted an attack inside the capital, Torit. The plan was reportedly thwarted through a coordinated network.

“This was the plan, but was discovered by the security personnel,” he said.

Relatives of those arrested, however, claim it was something to do with the local politics.

“I think that the government, particularly the security operatives are not doing well in their work. What I know is that these people who have been arrested have no connection whatsoever with these allegations,” a source from the ruling party’s (SPLM) secretariat told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

“They have no connection with the rebels. What I know is that there are people in eastern Equatoria State government who wants to settle local differences through security claims,” he added.

He claimed the Juba government fears any small subversive activity could ignite rebellion, saying “this is always the case when people chose the path of darkness”.