By Deng Machol
Juba – On Friday, South Sudan’s Office of the President Salva Kiir has described the recent allegations by political activist Peter Biar that the President wanted him dead as made up stories to facilitate his asylum to the United States.
Peter Biar and philanthropist late Kerbino Wol were arrested in 2018. However, the court in Juba had charged Biar with incitement and disturbing the peace. He was then sentenced to 2 years for violating section 48/80, 2, b of the panel code of 2008.
Biar was pardoned by President Salva Kiir in January after spending several months in jail, followed Kiir ordered for their release in a New Year goodwill gesture. They were among 30 inmates released from prisons across the country.
Peter Biar left Juba for Nairobi, Kenya where he lived with his family until his departure to the US late last month.
In a tweeter post on 23rd of July, Biar who is now in the United States alleges that a “death squad” was sent either to abduct him from Kenya or murder him.
Biar also thanked US President Donald Trump for what he described as “providing refuge to me, my wife, and our three young children.”
While in the US, Biar called for the removal of President Salva Kiir through general elections and targeted sanctions.
In an opinion piece titled; “My Escape to America Shows the Price of Dissent in South Sudan” -published on 23 July 2020 by the Wall Street Journal, Biar described President Kiir as a dictator “working instead to build a powerful and repressive security apparatus with one mission—to keep him in power.”
In response to Peter Biar’s allegations, Ateny Wek Ateny, Press Secretary in the Office of the President accused Biar of being paranoid following the death of Kerbino Wol, who was also an inmate with him.
“A careful scrutiny of the above allegations leads to the conclusion that Peter made up this story, said Ateny. “His only problem is fear itself and such paranoia is the genesis of his return to the US, the current media blitz, and a call for sanctions and an increase in internationally sponsored protection forces in South Sudan.”
Ateny further said that the Juba government does not pursue those pardoned by the president.
“Prisoners of war, political detainees and those with other forgivable offences including Peter were released pardoned and thus the State has no interest in pursuing, monitoring or harming him,” Ateny retained.
According to Ateny, Biar was only seeking reentry into the US after allegedly losing his residency and Green card to the US Department of Homeland Security for having overstayed outside the US.
Nevertheless Peter Biar had stated that while in Nairobi, he “was forced into hiding after allegedly being told by senior government officials in South Sudan that assassins were actively looking for him, alleged that a hit squad in a tinted vehicle with a South Sudanese number visited his Nairobi apartment before he went into hiding.
In a flippant tone, Ateny said, “This allegation does not stand intelligence tradition. No government with this kind of intention would be this bold and daring to pursue a dissident in a foreign country using means that best implicates it.”
Ateny also said that Peter Biar was a foreign agent who has been spying senior government officials and the military establishment and was arrested because of collusion with foreign agencies and that the government became suspicious of him after discovering that he was working for a Germany firm.
“Peter has not often engaged in peaceful activities allowed under the constitution of South Sudan. His subversive activities, which are injurious to the peace process and the leaders of the country, are notable,” Ateny said.
In his letter, Biar further insisted that he couldn’t take the threat on his light lightly considering, “I had been a political prisoner in South Sudan, convicted a show trial…and sentenced to two years in prison.”
Former political detainee believes South Sudanese are now “desperate to hold Mr. Kiir accountable for his failed leadership” through voting in leaders will “secure a just and lasting peace.”
In his letter, Biar demanded the amendment of the UN peacekeeping mission’s mandate to ensure voters’ safety during elections and a road map to presidential elections -that entails a new constitution, electoral laws and a new independent National Elections Commission.
But the Office of the President Kiir affirmed that the peace government plans to hold national elections in 2023.
President Kiir’s office, the government will work with stakeholders to implement the fragile revitalized peace agreement towards a promising transition and path to democracy.
Ateny reiterated its government commitment to peace, good governance, the rule of law and democracy in the world youngest nation, which just emerging from the country’s five year conflict that has killed nearly 400,000 people and uprooted four million people from their homes, before devastated the country’s economy.