2 May 2014

South Sudan: Lakes State Caretaker Governor Criticised Over Military Calls

Rumbek — Lakes state military caretaker Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol has come under heavy criticism from activists and various youth leaders over his call for the state's youth to join the military.

On April 26, Dhuol, the caretaker governor Lakes state, urged local youths to join the military in order to protect the country from the instability caused by the four and a half month old conflict, in Mingkaman, the county headquarters of Awerial of Lakes state.

The rally was attended by some of the internally displaced people who are residing in Mingkaman, having fled across the White Nile to escape fighting in Jonglei state to the east.

Over a million people have been forced from their homes and thousands killed since the fighting began following a split in the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and the splintering of the ruling party (SPLM).

In a meeting held by youth members from Rumbek Central county on Friday, activists called upon Dhuol to apologise to South Sudan's president Salva Kiir Mayardit.

The youth leaders said that president Kiir is working for peace and not for war in the country and accused Dhuol of participating in pro-war propaganda.

Mathew Majak, a pastoralists youth representative told Sudan Tribune: "Governor Dhuol should disengage himself in calling for war against the Nuer community." The youth he represents "are not going to attack anybody or any Nuer areas. We have proper self-defence if the Nuer attacks us. We are not afraid."

He added that "the cause of December clashes in Juba is belong to Juba - we are not members of that row", referring to the internal politics of the SPLM and the power struggle between Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, who is leading the rebellion.

Another activist, Moses Majok, stated that youth in Lakes state stood alongside the elected government but he explained that youth are not ready to attacks any part of the country, adding that the Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups are brothers.

"Nuer community are our brothers" said despite the fact that the engage in cattle raiding among between Dinka groups in Lakes state and Nuer youth in neighbouring states.

He asked why they should fight each other now that South Sudan had achieved independence.

Majok noted that under the harsh leadership of caretaker Governor Dhuol, Lakes state youth have complained of receiving rough treatment at the hands of the security sevices, with some being held at Langcok military prison without any charges brought against them.

The activist claimed that "Dhuol had crushed justice and education in Lakes state."

Since Dhuol's appointment in 15 months ago, he has banned the selling of alcohol in Lakes state without providing an economic alternative for widows who sell homemade in order to pay school fees and for other essentials.

There are growing calls for South Sudanese president Salva Kiir Mayardit to remove Dhuol, whose policies have been accused of inflaming the same cyclical inter-clan tensions, which he was brought in stop.

Dhuol was appointed after Kiir issued a decree removing his elected predecessor Chol Tong Mayay from office, reportedly over his failure to quell ongoing tribal violence in the region.

Under South Sudan's constitution, an election should be held within 90 days should the president remove a governor. However, this has yet to occur in the country's three states where governors were removed last year.

Some residents in Rumbek town carrying radios with them hoping to hear the news that Dhuol has been removed.

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