AUTHOR: Aquilina Adhel | PUBLISHED: December 22, 2022
SPLM-IO party members at an event in Juba. Headed up by Dr Riek Machar, SPLM-IO is the main opposition party and signatory to the 2018 Peace deal | Credit | Courtesy
The government of Northern Bahr el Ghazal has denied restricting activities of political parties in the state.
In November, some members of the SPLM-IO in the state accused the commissioner of Aweil Center of curtailing their freedom of association.
They called out Peter Natali Okech for interfering with their meetings and political activities in the county.
This came after the commissioner allegedly intimidated officials of the SPLM-IO as they were returning to Aweil town in the evening hours.
Those who were reportedly harassed by the Commissioner included: Bol Akuar Gamar, state minister for youth and sports; Deng Nyiwel Dhieu, minority chief whip; and legislators Bol Lual Unguec and Achol Benwal.
In response, Tong Akeen instead blamed the opposition leaders for failing to obtain a security clearance before holding any event in the state.
“Our problem is that when you conduct your own meeting – a meeting that involves 10 to 15 participants – but you have not informed the security, it cannot work,” said Akeen, who represents SPLM in the state.
However, SPLM-IO Secretary General Garang Wol Kon begged to differ, saying they always inform the concerned security institutions, but still get harassed.
“We have never failed to inform the security organs, even if it something that we are doing in the counties,” Wol told Akol Yam FM.
Article 25 (1) of the Transitional Constitution stipulates that:
“…every person shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form or join political parties, associations and trade or professional unions for the protection of his or her interests.”
In addition, the September 2018 peace deal recognizes SPLM-IO as the main opposition party and must conduct its political activities freely.