Health officials detained over ejecting new Director in South Sudan

Detainee inside police cell

Two officials from Upper Nile State’s health ministry in South Sudan who have been detained since last week at a police station in Malakal town have decried their prolonged detention and demanded to be arraigned before a court.

Joseph Kuol, the state health ministry’s head for administration and finance, and his colleague Piot Aben, who heads the human resource department, were arrested on 19 January for allegedly rejecting the newly deployed director-general.

“We have been in detention yet investigations were conducted but we are still being kept here without bail or arraignment before a court,” Aben said over the weekend from his cell. “Our detention conditions are not bad but you cannot detain a person for more than 24 hours. It is unlawful.”

He said they do not recognize the new director-general and refused to hand over official stamps to him.

“The police denied us bail because we refused to hand over our stamps,” Aben added. “Yes, we refused to hand over the stamps because we do not recognize this new director general who opened the case against us. Again, there is no official letter demanding so.”

For his part, Chol Atem Jongeth, the state police commissioner, said: “I believe what is going on at the health ministry is administrative. We should leave it for them to settle within their ministry’s policy and regulations.”

The standoff at the health ministry in Malakal started at the beginning of the month when some staffers refused to cooperate with the new director general over alleged incompetence.

Two weeks ago, the ministry’s head of administration and finance was arrested for the same reason.   

 SOURCE: Radio Tamazuj

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