South Sudan's Kiir pardons politicians, rebels
09 October 2013, 17:55
Juba - South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has pardoned
several key political rivals and rebels, a number of whom were accused of
having received backing from old civil war foes Sudan, the government said
Key amongst those pardoned is opposition leader Lam Akol, a
former warlord who fought on both sides during Sudan's 1983-2005 civil war, and
Kiir's biggest critic since he split from the ruling party in 2009.
The move is seen as a way for Kiir to bolster political
support from old rivals, and follows a reshuffle of government, including the
sacking of the powerful former vice-president, Riek Machar.
"There are no conditions attached to it," said
Abdon Agau, South Sudan's top civil servant. "But it is generally assumed
that if you had been in trouble and you are forgiven, you must now behave
Akol, who challenged Kiir in 2010 elections, was accused of
backing a rebellion with troops armed by Khartoum, claims both Akol and Sudan
have always denied.
Peter Abdel Rahaman Sule, who heads the United Democratic
Front (UDF) party, was also pardoned for encouraging rebellion.
Other rebel commanders pardoned - some of whom have already
been integrated back into the army - include warlord Gabriel Tanginye, who in
2011 fought bitter battles with military in the northern Upper Nile state.