S Sudan to try rebel leaders, risking ceasefire

2014-01-29 11:24
South Sudan President Salva Kiir. (File, AFP)

South Sudan President Salva Kiir. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Juba - South Sudan says it will put key leaders of an alleged coup it claims triggered weeks of fighting on trial, in a move likely to threaten a fragile ceasefire with rebels.

The announcement, made late on Tuesday by Justice Minister Paulino Wanawila, underscored the animosity that still reigns between government forces under President Salva Kiir and a loose coalition of rebel fighters seen as loyal to Kiir's sacked deputy, Riek Machar.

Both sides implemented a ceasefire last Friday, but combat has only eased, not ended.

Kiir accused Machar and other former officials of fomenting a coup against his government after fighting broke out in the capital Juba on 15 December.

Eleven ex-officials were arrested, while Machar - who denied any coup plot - fled. Fighting quickly spread across the country. Aid groups say up to 10 000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The release of the prisoners has been a key demand of the rebels.

Prisoners have been divided into three categories: some to be tried, others suspected of involvement but who will be released to a third country - not yet named - and others who would be released without charge.

Wanawila late on Tuesday repeated the coup allegation against Machar and said some rebel leaders would be tried.


"If someone violates the law you don’t go and torture that person, you prosecute that person according to the law," he said.

He said six men were targeted for trial.

Four were in detention: Pagan Amum, former secretary general of the ruling party, ex-national security minister Oyai Deng Ajak, former ambassador to the US Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, and ex-deputy defence minister Majak D'Agoot.

Two others were on the run: chief rebel delegate Taban Deng who signed the ceasefire, as well as Alfred Ladu Gore, an experienced guerrilla fighter and respected leader especially in his home region surrounding the capital Juba.

Kiir has hinted he could use his power to grant amnesties but has said that legal processes must be completed first.

Both sides say the other has already broken the ceasefire, but insist they are committed to the deal.

Government and opposition rebels are still fighting for control in key areas, with the United Nations calling the situation "fragile".

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    salva kiir  |  south sudan  |  east africa

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

UK expert: Boks ‘have KO game’
Ireland hold on to down Italy
As it happened: Ireland 16-9 Italy
All Blacks sympathise with England
Traffic Alerts

Spontaneity is the order of the day. Let go and have some fun. Try not to set too many set plans and expectations and enjoy the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.