South Sudan opposition leader says his house is surrounded by security forces

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JUBA, South Sudan — An opposition leader in South Sudan said on Friday that government troops had surrounded his house in the capital, raising fears of insecurity in the city where a fight among the armed forces sparked a nationwide rebellion in 2013.

Lam Akol told The Associated Press that security operatives closed the two roads leading to his house in Juba, although they had not forced their way into his property.

"I don't feel threatened but definitely this is not pleasant. It is a scary situation if security people surround your house," he said by phone from inside his house. "I spoke to the minister concerned and he said he will ask his directors but up to now I have not heard back from any of them."

The allegations were denied by Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth, who said Akol was free to leave his house if he wanted.

"He is a free citizen and if he claims to be under house arrest that is a different thing. Why should he be put under house arrest? If we want to arrest him we would just take him to the prison," Lueth said.

South Sudan remains volatile as government troops try to put down a rebellion led by former Vice President Riek Machar but the capital, Juba, where the fighting started in December 2013, has been generally peaceful.

Akol heads the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-Democratic Change party and is a frequent critic of the government and one of President Salva Kiir's major political rivals.

Akol has recently criticized both Kiir and Machar for lacking the political will to make the necessary compromises needed to reach a final peace agreement.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in South Sudan's current conflict, according to the U.N. Multiple peace pacts have been broken by both sides in the conflict.

Fighting appears to be resuming in the oil-rich Upper Nile state, where government forces are reportedly fighting for control of the capital, Malakal, after it was taken by forces loyal to a local general.

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