South Sudanese activist Peter Biar Ajak has accused his country’s government of hiring a hit squad to murder him while he had fled to seek refuge in Kenya.
Speaking to the BBC, Ajak said in the weeks after he had settled in Nairobi, several South Sudanese government officials called him to warn that a team “has been sent to Nairobi to either abduct or to kill me.”
He told another news outlet that while in Nairobi, he noticed SUVs that bore South Sudanese number plates, following him wherever he went.
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“I thought I could be safe in Kenya. But then, knowing what happened in Kenya before especially in light of what happened to Dong Samuel and Aggrey Idriss who were kidnapped from Nairobi, taken to Juba and executed by the government, I could not take those information [sic] lightly,” Ajak added.
Iddris and Samuel, an opposition member and a human rights lawyer respectively, were murdered in 2017 in South Sudan after they had gone missing from Kenya. The United States sanctioned five government officials in South Sudan for the murders.
Ajak’s activism against the government of Salva Kiir has been consistent over the last few years in spite of the fact that Ajak has connections with power. While his father is a general, his father-in-law is the former head of the South Sudanese armed forces.
But Ajak believes his kind of activism angers the government in Juba because his approach is multi-ethnic.
He said: “In 2017 when we started to organize the South Sudan Young Leaders Forum, we attracted a lot of young people from different tribes, from different factions, from different groups who were inspired by the work we were doing. We wanted to bring about a different kind of politics.
“These are the things that threaten them (the government) because the kind of leaders we have in South Sudan are leaders who consistently think about themselves and how they maintain themselves in power.”
Juba has, however, denied the accusations of attempting to kill Ajak in Kenya. Ajak was imprisoned for nearly 18 months for disturbing the peace and only pardoned in January.
Meanwhile, he has now relocated to the United States with his wife and three children.