July 23, 2020 (JUBA) – Security authorities in South Sudan released a presidential adviser on minority affairs, lessening tensions that have arisen within the presidency following his arrest last week.
Akot Lual Arech, a Presidential Adviser on Murle Affairs and who sees himself an advocate for the rights of minority tribes in the country, was arrested on Saturday on directives allegedly emanating from senior government officials discontented with the manner in which he involves himself in what are supposedly activities falling in purviews and constitutional prerogatives of different institutions.
A presidential source told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday talks involving president Salva Kiir who was allegedly caught unaware of what transpired, resulted in his release, stopping security and judicial measures to investigate reasons surrounding his detention.
“The president was unaware when Akot Lual was arrested. He learned from the relatives and his guards afterwards. When he learnt of this and was not convinced by the explanations given to him by those around him, he directed that he should be released, and the authorities acted immediately,” a relative said when reached to comment on the circumstance behind the detention.
A security official said separately Akot was detained because of his activities, some of which extend into activities of the institutionally established organs of the government.
“This is a guy who has no assignment at the presidency, but you find him negotiating a peace agreement with some groups. Now he is negotiating with Paul Malong and nobody has authorized him. You know that he had already negotiated with David Yauyau and that the outcome of his negotiation created the Pibor administrative area”.
“Now he wants to negotiate with Paul Malong and I hear Paul Malong is asking for a position of a vice president which Akot and his group have accepted. So, people want to know from him who gave him this power to negotiate with armed groups, asked a security source when contacted to comment on what he knows behind the detention of the presidential aide,” he told Sudan Tribune.
He acknowledged Lual had been released following directives from higher authorities to stop whatever that was being done and to set him free.
“Yes, he has been released because directives came from higher authorities that he should be released and people will talk to him to stop these activities or he is given an official assignment to continue with his activities”, he explained. “This is all that is required to avoid confusion with regards to his role, he adds.
Family members expressed happiness following the release of the presidential aide.
“As the family and his friends, we are grateful that he is released. He is a free man now. I just came from his house where I went to see him after he was released. Akot is a good man. He wants this senseless conflict to stop. He wants peace to come so that people resume a normal way of living,” he explained.
Observers are keen to describe the arrest as part of a political strategy aimed at deflecting attention from his role in the Jonglei conflict in which he is seen by a section of the Dinka Bor as favouring ethnic Murle in the way he manages the dispute between the rivals. Sources allege that he had been airlifting to Juba from Pibor areas those who have been wounded during communal fights in Jonglei.