Leading South Sudan opposition member says he was tortured

AP News
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Posted: Jul 14, 2016 2:40 PM

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — A leading member of South Sudan's armed opposition said Thursday he was arrested and tortured in the capital before being released.

Dhieu Mathok, the secretary general of the SPLM-IO party and energy minister in South Sudan's new unity government, declined to name his attackers, saying only, "They are known."

A photo provided to The Associated Press showed Mathok's knees badly cut up, with chunks of skin missing.

"I am a leader of the (party) and they want to assassinate me. That is all," he told the AP by phone.

Two other SPLM-IO officials separately confirmed the incident.

Opposing army factions have clashed in the capital, Juba, over the past week, with forces backing President Salva Kiir pushing many opposition forces out of their bases in the city and bombing the home of former rebel leader Riek Machar.

The fighting has threatened a peace deal reached in August to end a civil war that began in December 2013 between supporters of Kiir and Machar and left tens of thousands dead. The deal called for a transitional government that included members of both sides.

Both Kiir and Machar, now first vice president, called late Monday for a cease-fire, which has appeared to hold.

But tensions continue among their supporters.

Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University, said government hardliners who opposed the peace deal with the SPLM-IO are now gaining traction.

De Waal said the "first strike" this week was to remove the opposition forces from Juba, "and presumably (they) will continue to coerce and round up the other opposition,"

This week, Kiir fired another dissident politician, Cireno Hiteng, who was deputy foreign affairs minister.

South Sudanese activist Edmund Yakani said the incidents indicate that the government's "dismantling of the peace agreement politically is in progress."