Prominent S.Sudanese rights activist arrested: family, lawyer

Peter Biar Ajak has been featured on various international media giving analysis on the ongoing peace talks in Khartoum. (TV screen grab)
Updated 30 July 2018
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Prominent S.Sudanese rights activist arrested: family, lawyer

  • Peter Biar Ajak is critical of both President Salva Kiir’s regime as well as rebel leader Riek Machar
  • He was arrested Saturday at Juba International Airport, a family member said

JUBA: A prominent South Sudanese rights activist critical of both President Salva Kiir’s regime as well as rebel leader Riek Machar has been arrested, a family member and lawyer said Monday.
Peter Biar Ajak, who has been featured on various international media giving analysis on the ongoing peace talks in Khartoum, was arrested Saturday at Juba International Airport, a family member requesting anonymity told AFP.
“He’s innocent and he is not a threat to anyone so we wonder why they would arrest him and h e is just a normal civilian like any other citizen of South Sudan,” the relative said.
Biar heads a number of rights organizations across South Sudan, including the South Sudan Young Leaders Forum.
In recent comments to the media he said a power-sharing deal, which is due to be finalized next month, was unrealistic and unlikely to restore peace in the war-ravaged nation as certain key opposition groups were excluded.
The government has not commented on Biar’s arrest.
Philip Sanyang Ngong, a right activist who works with Advocates Without Borders, confirmed the arrest and told AFP that Biar was being held at the National Security Service compound known as “Blue House.”
“Arresting Peter Biar is one thing but then all the procedures of him being availed to his lawyers, him being availed to his family members are all things we expect and we want the government to look into these things if there is a case against Biar.”
Biar has also urged both Kiir and Machar to step aside and make way for new people to rule the country, ravaged by nearly five years of war.
South Sudan’s warring parties last week signed a preliminary power-sharing deal which sees Machar re-instated as vice president, with four other vice president positions shared out among other political groups.


Trump picks ambassador to Canada for UN post

U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft takes part in a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Trudeau's office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 3, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 35 min 58 sec ago
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Trump picks ambassador to Canada for UN post

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump announced Friday that he has selected Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to Canada, as his nominee to serve as the next US ambassador to the United Nations.
Trump said in a pair of tweets that Craft “has done an outstanding job representing our Nation” and he has “no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level.”
Two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters had told The Associated Press that Trump had been advised that Craft’s confirmation would be the smoothest of the three candidates he had been considering to fill the job last held by Nikki Haley.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, had backed Craft for the post, and she also has the support of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, the people said. Trump’s first pick to replace Haley, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, withdrew over the weekend.
Craft, a Kentucky native, was a member of the US delegation to the UN General Assembly under President George W. Bush’s administration. She is also friends with McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and thanked Chao for her “longtime friendship and support” at her swearing-in as ambassador.
As US ambassador to Canada, she played a role in facilitating the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump had also considered US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and former US Senate candidate John James of Michigan for the post.
Nauert’s withdrawal from consideration came amid a push within the administration to fill the position, given a pressing array of foreign policy concerns in which the United Nations, particularly the UN Security Council, is likely to play a significant role. From Afghanistan to Venezuela, the administration has pressing concerns that involve the world body, and officials said there had been impatience with the delays on Nauert’s formal nomination.
Trump said Dec. 7 that he would pick the former Fox News anchor and State Department spokeswoman for the UN job, but her nomination was never formalized. Notwithstanding other concerns that may have arisen during her confirmation, Nauert’s nomination had languished in part due to the 35-day government shutdown that began Dec. 22 and interrupted key parts of the vetting process. Nauert cited family considerations in withdrawing from the post.
With Nauert out of the running, officials said Pompeo had been keen on Craft to fill the position. Although Pompeo would like to see the job filled, the vacancy has created an opportunity for him and others to take on a more active role in UN diplomacy. On Thursday, for example, Pompeo was in New York to meet with UN chief Antonio Guterres.
Trump has demoted the UN position to sub-Cabinet rank, in a move backed by both Bolton and Pompeo, according to three other officials. Grenell had suggested he wasn’t interested in a non-Cabinet role. The officials were not authorized to discuss internal personnel deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Haley had been a member of the Cabinet and had clashed repeatedly with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others during the administration’s first 14 months. Bolton was not a Cabinet member when he served as UN ambassador in President George W. Bush’s administration, and neither he nor Pompeo is eager to see a potential challenge to their foreign policy leadership in White House situation room meetings, according to the officials.
Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said Craft was appointed ambassador to Canada because of her financial contributions to the Trump campaign, but said that’s not unusual as past ambassadors have also contributed to presidents who have appointed them.
“I think Ottawa has regarded Craft as a light weight, partly because of her background and partly because the sense is that Trump, unlike his predecessors, doesn’t listen to his ambassadors or care what they think,” Wiseman said.
Craft is married to billionaire coal-mining executive Joe Craft, and they are major Republican donors.
Craft has been ambassador during a low point in relations. Last year Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weak and dishonest, words that shocked Canadians.