Sudan: Lakes Caretaker Governor Calls for Ministerial Support for Disarmament

Rumbek — Lakes state's military caretaker governor Major General Matur Chut Dhuol has called on the council of ministers to put more efforts into collective cooperation to support the disarmament process in the troubled state.

He contradicted his earlier threats to shut down state parliament, saying he is willing to work closely with state members.

The comments come as Dhuol assumed office on Monday in the capital Rumbek after being sworn in by South Sudanese president Salva Kiir.

Following his appointment by presidential decree in January, Dhuol has toured all eight counties of the state, preaching his tough new set of security reform initiatives.

He has also issued several warnings to close down state parliament if lawmakers continue to debate sensitive topics such as politics and human rights.

Dhuol says his brief is to restore peace and security before the kick-off of the 2015 national elections and as such warned against those pursuing a political agenda ahead of that time, saying there was "no room for politics [from] now until 2015".

Last month, clashes between sections of the Dinka ethnic group erupted in Rumbek Central county, killing 25 people and injuring more than 30.

Speaking earlier this month, Dhuol was adamant that "No human rights people" will be permitted into the secretive Lakes state prison where young men arrested in relation to the recent spate of violence will be held at an unspecified location without access to legal representation or human rights officials.

Lakes state's minister of Information and communication, Charles Badiri Mayen, confirmed the governor had called upon the council of ministers to support him to achieve the disarmament process, adding he wanted all Lakes state's main roads to be free of robbery and car hijackings.

Charles added that the governor believed that disarmament could only be achieved across all eight counties if robberies and other illegal activities along the roadways were stamped out.

VIOLENT OUTBREAK

Dhuol's predecessor Chol Tong Mayay was sacked by the president without warning on January 22 after apparently struggling to maintain security in the state following the violent outbreak.

Prior to his dismissal Mayay ordered the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and South Sudan Police Services (SSPS) to launch operations of forceful disarmament in the three counties affected by the clashes between the Amothnhom and Panyon sections of the Dinka ethnic group.

Lakes state is one of the many areas in South Sudan were pastoral communities have repeatedly clashed over access to grazing land, water resources and cattle ownership.

Thousands of young men still have illegal firearms in Lakes state, despite a disarmament campaign initiated in 2010. Dhuol has ordered firearms registration to start immediately, but no deadline for the process has been announced.

Meanwhile, attempts to swear in Mabor Ater Dhuol as acting secretary of the Lakes states Sudan People's Liberation Movement's (SPLM) has caused dissent among party members.

Officials in Lakes state from South Sudan's ruling party remain divided following the contentious appointment in September and according to Charles, negotiations on whether or not Mabor should take the oath of office remain ongoing.

Daniel Awet Akot, the SPLM chairperson for Lakes state, appointed Mabor in September last year, in a move the party's state liberation council rejected, describing it as "unlawful".

The council accuse Akot, who is also the deputy speaker of South Sudan's national assembly, of making the decision without consulting other party members first.

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