April 24, 2015 / 3:08 PM / 3 years ago

South Sudan security forces surround house of opposition figure

JUBA (Reuters) - Security forces in South Sudan have surrounded the home of an opposition party leader who has been a leading critic of President Salva Kiir, he said on Friday.

Lam Akol, who formed his SPLM-DC party after breaking away from the ruling SPLM, opposed the extension last month of Kiir’s term in office by three years and criticized the scrapping of elections due in June.

“The security came last night and they surrounded my house and they closed all the roads leading to my house,” Akol told Reuters by telephone, adding he was not told why and did not know if he was now under house arrest.

Government officials did not have any immediate comment.

Akol said he had been barred from leaving the country last year but had until now been able to travel around the capital.

“I have constitutional rights to move freely,” said Akol.

Akol was the only candidate to run against Kiir in the 2010 election. He had been a representative at Sudan’s peace talks in Addis Ababa but said he was barred from leaving South Sudan to attend the talks last year.

“This is a political motivated move directed against the leadership of the National Alliance,” said Martin Aligo Abe, secretary-general of the opposition coalition that includes the SPLM-DC.

Akol, a foreign minister of South Sudan when it was a semi-autonous region before independence in 2011, said he had quit the SPLM due to mismanagement in the government.

He also criticizes rebel leader Riek Machar, who has battled Kiir’s forces for more than a year.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.5 million have fled their homes since fighting between supporters of Kiir and Machar began in December 2013.

The fighting has largely pitted Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group against Machar’s Nuer. Other ethnic groups, such as Akol’s Shilluk, say they have been sidelined for years and, more recently, excluded from peace talks that have focused on the two leaders.

Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Edmund Blair and Robin Pomeroy

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