December 21, 2008 (JUBA) — The President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), General Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a Presidential Decree appointing Nhial Deng Nhial as Minister for SPLA Affairs.
- Nhial Deng Nhial is seen behind the late SPLM leader John Garang before a documents signing ceremony between a Sudanese government official and a negotiator from the former rebel SPLM on November 19, 2004.
The Presidential Decree No. 175/2008 appoints Nhial Deng, former GoSS Minister of Regional Cooperation, as the Southern Sudan army’s defense minister with effect from December 22, 2008.
The appointment comes after a statement by the Governor of Jonglei State, Kuol Manyang Juuk, that he had been approached by Salva Kiir to fill the important vacant position since the death of the former SPLA Affairs Minister, Dominic Dim Deng, who died in a plane crash on May 2, 2008.
Nhial Deng, who belongs to the Dinka Bhar El-Gazal region, is the son of the famous late southern Sudanese leader William Deng Nhial, who was assassinated in 1968 by the Sudanese army. William Deng led the exiled Sudan African Nationalist Union (SANU), but returned to Sudan just before his death to take part in the 1968 elections.
Aspiring to his father’s role of statesman, Nhial Deng completed an education in Khartoum and earned a degree in law in the early 1980s.
Nhial’s resignation from GoSS ministry of regional cooperation in May 2006, only a few months after his appointment, brought controversy and debate over the reason for his departure. Some reports said it was because his ministry was financially neglected and with there was rampant corruption inside the government, or because of the significant funds spent on the integration of the SPLA with the SSDF armed groups.
However, neither Nhial nor any other official explained why he had quitted the nascent southern Sudan administration. Afterward, he left Sudan to settle in England for two years where he continued his studies of law.
As a result of continual attempts by his comrades in the SPLM, particularly Pagan Amum and others, he made his comeback to Juba earlier this year. He then caused a surprise by declaring his candidacy for the chairmanship he SPLM against Salva Kiir as well as Riek Machar at the second convention of the party last May in Juba.
Since then, he is seen beside Salva Kiir during his travels inside or outside the Sudan.
His appointment will likely be appreciated by the southern Sudanese army, which is dominated by generals who believe they are the holders of the legacy of the late John Garang, the founder of the SPLM.
The close relationship between Garang and Nhial once sparked rumours that Salva Kiir would possibly be evicted from his position as deputy chairman of the movement. But the matter was cleared up in a three-day meeting which took place in Rumbek from November 29 to December 1, 2004, one month before the signing of the CPA agreement that ended the north-south war.
The SPLM was originally the political wing of the SPLA, an insurgency that waged war for 22 years against the Khartoum-based government of Sudan, before joining the national government in a 2005 peace deal that also made SPLM the ruling party in Southern Sudan.
The SPLA uprising began in 1983 when John Garang, then the head of the army’s Staff College in Omdurman, joined guerrillas and the 105 battalion in mutinying and fleeing to Ethiopia.
The CPA established the SPLA as Sudanese army is southern Sudan while the Sudan Armed Force is considered as northern Sudan army. Both are forming the Sudanese army. The Joint Integrated Units formed in accordance to the peace deal are supposed to the nucleus of the future united army id the southern Sudan opts to remain part of a united state.
This week, Juba parliament passed the army budget; accordingly the SPLA gets forty percent of the southern region’s budget annually which translate to 400 million Sudanese pounds (US$187 million).
(Reporting by James Gatdet Dak, editing by Daniel Van Oudenaren)