South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has directed that the detained former governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazal state, Kuel Aguer Kuel be treated at a private hospital in the capital, Juba, after reports indicated his health was deteriorating.
Kuel was arrested over his involvement with activitist who called for resignation of Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar.
A presidential source, who preferred anonymity, told Sudan Tribune Monday that Kiir directed the Director General of the internal bureau of the national security service to allow the ex-governor seek medical services at a hospital of his choice within Juba.
The president’s directive follows numerous calls for Kuel’s release to enable him leave the country for proper medical attention.
Kuel has since early August 2021, been in detention after security forces arrested him days after he signed a document representing intellectuals who organized mobilization for a mass protest to press Kiir and his first deputy in the coalition government to step down.
Activists accused the two leaders of failing to work together and showing a lack of political will to implement the revitalized peace deal.
Kuel’s family members have since been asking members of the public and government officials to talk to Kiir to release him, citing his deteriorating health. Pictures showing the ex-governor seated on a debilitated chair for infusion therapy and looking exhausted, sparked nationwide anger and calls for protest among activists.
Jok Madut Jok, a United States-based political analyst, protested against Kuel’s detention, wondering why those who have killed hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed properties across the country were now living a luxurious and comfortable life within the presidency more than those who want to exercise nonviolence activism recognized by the constitution of the East African nation.
“It’s not acceptable to imprison someone who has only talked about the miserable state in our country. People who’ve killed are living large in South Sudan, but a harmless person can be subjected to these conditions”, he said in a tweet on Friday.
Jok also wondered why government was afraid of freedom of expression, association, and assembly in the country even after signing a peace agreement advocating all reforms, institutional, attitudes, beliefs, and ways of managing public affairs.
He further wrote, “Who is afraid of freedom of expression, association & assembly in South Sudan? It’s the failed state which lacks confidence in the citizens; it is the failed leaders who don’t want the citizens to point out their failure. Suppression of critical voices is a measure of weakness!”
Analysts say social media protests forced Kiir and members of his administration to allow Kuel seek medical care within Juba.
On Sunday, Kuel’s daughter Atak Kuel Aguer Kuel, said her father has been allowed to seek medical attention outside the prison.
Atak said her father had spent over 45 days in a jail house without any legal proceedings, appealing to the government on behalf the family for the release of her father or to take him to court for trial.
"Yesterday they took him to hospital, and he was on oxygen, and they got that he is having a liver problem until now he is still in hospital”, Atak wrote on her Facebook page, further adding, “He is unwell in the prison”.
A presidential aide, who asked not to be identified, told Sudan Tribune on Monday that he was one of the officials who pleaded with president Kiir to listen to them and allow Kuel seek medical care.
“I told him [Kiir] that the Aweil community continue to be one of your strong political bases and it is time you listen to their cry. Their people who are asking your wisdom and forgiving heart known for you to allow Kuel go for medical care inside Juba, are even those who do not share the same political viewpoint with him. I even mentioned some people to him and shared with him what they said either privately or on social media,” explained the source.
He added, “He gave me his attention and listened to me keenly”.
The Transitional Constitution of South Sudan prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention without charge.
Source: Sudan Tribune