By Parach Mach
JUBA, South Sudan
A senior rebel figure has warned Kenya against deporting opposition dissidents to South Sudan where they are likely to be held without charge.
In remarks made on his social media account Thursday, Koang Rambang Chol ordered forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar to not allow Kenyan nationals to leave South Sudan’s north town of Akobo in retaliation.
“I am ordering all security organs, including military intelligence not to allow Kenyan citizens, including those working in the humanitarian organizations to leave Bieh state territory until further directive from my office,” Chol said.
The order comes after two South Sudanese opposition dissidents, Dong Samuel and Aggrey Idris, were detained in Kenya on Monday with reports suggesting the duo could face deportation to South Sudan.
In November last year, Kenya arrested and deported James Gatdet Dak, who was Machar’s spokesman. Dak remains in custody without charge.
Koang said Kenya would be dealing a blow to bilateral relations if any of its key members were deported.
“If Dong Samuel is deported to Juba, I am afraid Kenya government would have hit the last nail on the coffin,” he added.
The Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that in recent years Kenya had "unlawfully deported several prominent opposition members from neighboring countries to their countries of origin, despite being recognized as refugees under Kenyan law."
The conflict in South Sudan began in December 2013 when a power struggle emerged within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), specifically between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Machar.
The feud quickly escalated into civil war. Since then, tens of thousands have been killed. Almost half of the pre-war population has been displaced, including more than two million who fled their homes.