JUBA, JANUARY 22ND 2023 (SUDANS POST) – South Sudan’s civil rights movement, the People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA), has said that the government in Juba has made several attempts to assassinate prominent activist and former governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State Kuel Aguer Kuel since his release from detention in December.
Aguer, a highly respected politician from Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, was arrested in August 2021 after signing a declaration by the PCCA in which the civil rights movement called for a popular uprising in an attempt to remove President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny from power after several years of power struggle which usually ends with killings of innocent civilians.
The politician-turned-activist was kept by the National Security Service (NSS) without charges for more than a year and was eventually charged in mid-2022 under sections, 52, 63, 66, 74, 75, 78, and 80 of the South Sudan Penal Code which probits illegal takeover of government, organization of unauthorized demonstrations and “trying to cause violence to the public.”
In a ruling on December 9, 2022, the Special High Court formed ahead of Aguer’s trial in Juba dismissed all the charges brought against him, saying it decided to acquit and dismiss all the charges against the activist because there is no enough evidence to support the claims put forth by the government.
In a statement dated January 10, 2023, the PCCA said the government had made attempts to assassinate the activist after his release, alleging that a group of assassins hired by the government to harm the activist entered Kuel’s house to possibly harm him before withdrawing after it learned that he was not in the house.
“It is worth noting that on the 14th of December 2022, the assassins entered Gov. Kuel’s home at night, purporting to be armed robbers. When they realized that he was not home, they fled the scene without touching anything or anyone,” the statement said.
“Not only has the government made attempts on Kuel’s life, but it has also curtailed his freedoms. Kuel is not allowed to visit his family or seek medical attention as his health deteriorated while being illegally detained in that hellish Juba prison,” the statement extended to Sudans Post added.
It said that “People are warned not to meet with him, and he is not allowed to speak to the media or make any public statements. Apparently, the court’s decision to release Kuel, for lack of any case against him, is not being respected. The government is violating Kuel’s constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms. Furthermore, the government has filed an appeal to try and overturn the court’s decision to release Kuel unconditionally for lack of credible case against him.”
The statement further warned that the government will be held accountable should the something happens to the activist, and called on the government to immediately allow the activist to travel to seek medical attention as his health situation continue to worsen.
“The PCCA calls upon the government of South Sudan first to revoke any plans to assassinate Kuel for his political views and all restrictions on him must be lifted immediately and he should be allowed to visit his family and to seek medical care. It is a responsibility of the government of South Sudan to protect Gov. Kuel and to cater for his health,” the statement added.
“While the President’s New Year message calls for reconciliation and forgiveness, the government’s continuing pursuit of legal prosecution and physical elimination of political opponents, who denounced violence, stand in sharp contrast. The move by the government to appeal against the court’s decision to acquit Gov. Kuel from baseless charges and the persistent hunt for the PCCA’s leaders within and outside South Sudan, with the intention to harm them, nullify the call for dialogue and peace. This portrays bad faith in light of the country’s preparation for papal visit.
“The government’s actions against Gov. Kuel and the PCCA negate the President’s message and go to show that the message was simply specious. The PCCA calls on the government to honor its call for dialogue by opening requisite civic and political spaces. This is the civilized way of handling opposition.
“The PCCA informs the region and the international community, especially human rights organizations, to take note of the threats to the life of Gov. Kuel Aguer Kuel and the restrictions placed on him in violation of the constitution and the court order. The PCCA calls upon well-wishers to provide any necessary support to Gov. Kuel to ensure his safety and wellbeing.
“The PCCA informs the people of South Sudan, including the Church, to take note of the threats against Gov. Kuel and all restrictions on his freedoms. The PCCA further calls on the people of South Sudan to stand in solidarity with Gov. Kuel and to provide any necessary support to ensure his physical safety and health.
“The PCCA will continue to keep the people of South Sudan informed on this evolving situation and it reserves the right to escalate non-violent popular actions in the event Gov. Kuel’s situation does not improve immediately.”