By Addis Getachew
Mabior Garang, son of the late John Garang, a founding father of South Sudan and the country’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), has dismissed media reports that he had been arrested by Ethiopian authorities earlier this week.
“Media reports that said I had been arrested are all false,” the younger Garang told Anadolu Agency in Addis Ababa. “I am free and staying in [Addis Ababa’s] Radisson Blu Hotel.”
Some international media reports suggested that Garang had been arrested and interrogated by Ethiopian authorities in connection with an alleged attempt on the life of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, who was in Addis Ababa to attend an Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit.
The reports quoted Ethiopian security officials as saying that Garang was arrested in the possession of a fully-loaded pistol when he was taken into custody in the lobby of a hotel in which Kiir was staying.
“The media might have been told this by those who are affiliated with the [South Sudanese] government,” said Garang, who openly supports South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar.
“I did not attempt anything of the kind,” he said, in answer to the reports. “The [South Sudanese] government wants people to think of me as a dangerous man.”
Garang has been part of the rebel delegation to IGAD-mediated talks hosted by Addis Ababa, currently in recess. He has shuttled between Nairobi and Addis Ababa since the talks began earlier this year.
He is one of the few members of the Dinka tribe to have joined Machar’s camp, members of which hail predominantly from the rival Nuer tribe.
Garang has accused Kiir’s government of squandering the legacy of his late father, who spearheaded the decades-long struggle for South Sudanese independence from Sudan.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when Kiir accused Machar of plotting to overthrow his regime.
Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have since been displaced in fighting between the two rivals, leading to an increasingly dire humanitarian situation for large swathes of the population.
In recent months, the warring camps have held on-again, off-again peace talks in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the Djibouti-based IGAD, an East African regional bloc.
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