South Sudan election candidate complains of arrests

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South Sudan’s government has arrested dozens of supporters of a leading independent contesting the governorship of the region’s main oil state, the candidate said.

Angelina Teny, the wife of South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar and who is running independently in Unity state, said April’s vote would not be fair.

South Sudan’s democratic credentials will be scrutinised during the elections as eight months later it will vote on independence and many believe the region will secede from the rest of the country.

Sudan’s opposition complain of harassment in the Islamist north but candidates in the first multi-party vote in 24 years are increasingly speaking of intimidation in the south, where the semi-autonomous government is dominated by the ex-rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

Teny told Reuters some of her supporters were still jailed.
“There are a number of them in prison in different locations,” said Teny, a former SPLM member who disagreed with the party’s method and choice of candidate for the post. “There is no freedom. You couldn’t possibly have free and fair elections under such circumstances.”

The SPLM signed peace deal with Khartoum in 2005 ending more than 20 years of war over political, ethnic and religious differences, fuelled by the discovery of oil reserves.

Teny said that four of her campaign agents were still in jail in the Unity state capital Bentiu.
“Mostly it is the police but there has been use of the army as well,” she said.
“One of them has been accused of ripping down a poster of my opponent, the incumbent governor,” Teny said, adding that the other agents had only been putting up posters and distributing campaign t-shirts.

She added dozens of her supporters holding meetings had been detained and warned not to gather again.
“This is a policy of the (state) government to make it difficult for anyone who is campaigning,” Teny said.

The SPLM and other southern political parties signed an electoral code of conduct saying security agents should not intimidate or harass any candidates, their agents or supporters.

Anne Itto, who heads SPLM party affairs in the south, told Reuters that she had no information about the arrests.

The SPLM-led government has faced criticism from New York based Human Rights Watch over the military’s treatment of civilians.

Two radio stations were raided and staff arrested last week in the southern capital Juba after an interview with a supporter of another independent candidate, Alfred Ladu Gorre, was aired by one of the stations.

Pic: South Sudanese president- Salva Kirr

Source: www.af.reuters.com