South Sudan releases rebel official

“James Gatdet Dak, a former spokesman of rebel leader Riek Machar, sits inside the dock in the High Court in Juba on February 12, 2018.” Photo: Reuters

Khartoum, November 2, 2018 (SSNA) — South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Friday ordered the release of former spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition’s (SPLM-IO) leadership, the armed opposition has confirmed.

The move comes barely two days after Kiir announced during peace celebration in Juba that he was ready to release two rebel-linked officials, James Gatdet Dak and William Endley.

James was the official spokesman for the SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar until he was abducted by the Kenyan police in November 2016 and deported him back to Juba despite the fact that James was legally registered as a refugee. The South African man William is widely believed to be an adviser to Machar. He has been deported to South Africa after he was set free. James is expected to rejoin his former boss in Khartoum in any day.

A senior rebel official who declined to be named because he was not authorized to discuss the issue with the media told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) in Khartoum that the movement is happy to see James free and thanks Kiir for fulfilling his promise.

“We are thrilled. We are not aware of any crime James Gatdet committed. He was simply kidnapped by Kenyan authorities and deported back to Juba,” said the official, adding, “We thank President kiir for ordering his release.”

The release of the two men was dominated South Sudanese social media discussions, with some declaring that Kiir would announce the release of James Gatdet at the peace celebration event.

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