South Sudan 'frees' opposition politician

Lam Akol, chairman of South Sudan's main opposition party, is a former warlord who fought on both sides during Sudan's 1983-2005 civil war (AFP Photo/Samir Bol) (AFP/File)

Juba (AFP) - A South Sudanese opposition leader who has spoken out against both sides in the civil war said Tuesday that he has been freed from a week of house arrest.

Lam Akol said his home in the capital Juba, which is under the control of the government loyal to President Salva Kiir, was surrounded by security personnel last week.

South Sudan's government denied placing any restrictions on Akol, although witnesses confirmed security forces and vehicles had been posted outside.

"I have been freed," Akol told AFP on Tuesday, saying security forces had told him they had been sent to provide him protection, but that he doubted that reason.

"I suspect that they -– the government -- may be unhappy about our stand on the current issues," Akol said.

South Sudan's civil war began in Juba in December 2013 and has since spread across the country. At least 50,000 people have been killed and more than a million forced from their homes.

Akol is the leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) party, and has spoken out against both Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

Akol comes from Upper Nile State where ethnic rebels from his Shilluk people have fought government troops.

Experts say the government restrictions on him were likely linked to fears he played a role in the clashes.

Akol is a former warlord who fought on both sides during Sudan's 1983-2005 civil war, including alongside Machar.