By Julius N. Uma
April 16, 2012 (KUAJOK) - The governor of South Sudan’s Warrap state has officially directed the public to embark on a massive mobilisation to counter escalating insecurity, food and economic crises in the newly independent nation.
- Warrap State governor Nyandeng Malek addresses SPLM members at the state secretariat in Kuajok, April 14, 2012 (Uma Julius/ST)
Nyandeng Malek made these remarks on Saturday while briefing members of South Sudan’s ruling party on the resolutions of the party’s second National Liberation Council (NLC) meeting held in Juba, the South Sudan capital last month.
“Today as you know, we have challenges that need to be addressed,” Malek said, adding that “Unless we start mobilising and preparing our people now, it may be very difficult to address these challenges.”
The governor specifically cited internal and external insecurity as well as the recent austerity measures as some of the issues that require immediate redress.
South Sudan’s cabinet recently instituted strict austerity measures in the wake of the country’s shut down of oil production in January over a dispute with neighbouring Sudan over how much the nine-month-old country should pay in oil transit fees. Oil revenue previously accounted for 98% of South Sudan’s budget.
The governor, in an interview with Sudan Tribune, also denounced recent calls by the international community, including the United Nations and African Union, demanding the immediate withdrawal of South Sudan’s army (SPLA) from the oil-rich Heglig region.
The disputed area has been held by the SPLA for almost a week although unconfirmed reports say the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) have since reclaimed part of the area.
Heglig was placed outside of Abyei - another disputed area - in 2009 by an tribunal in The Hague and is internationally recognised as being part of Sudan’s South Kordofan State.
Much of the Abyei region has been occupied by SAF since May last year after a referendum due for January 2011 did not take place. Just as the SPLA claim there assault on Heglig was a response a SAF attack on Unity State, SAF say they took control of Abyei last year after one of their convoys was attacked heading north out of the area.
“When Sudan army occupied Abyei and displaced our people, the international community remained silent. Why are they now putting pressure on our forces who have the mandate to control South Sudan’s territory?” the Warrap State governor asked.
On Saturday, the youth in Warrap openly declared their intentions to embark on a voluntary mobilisation recruitment and sensitisation program as part of efforts to defend the country’s territorial integrity.
Morris Mabior, the initiative coordinator for the voluntary youth mobilisation, recruitment and sensitisation program said the one-month initiative will target all the six counties in the state. He hoped that all ‘Gelweng’ (cattle keepers) will join hands and work in collaboration with the state leadership.
Similar mobilisation campaigns to recruit young men provide supplies to the SPLA have been announced in all of South Sudan’s states that border Sudan. North of the border Khartoum has initiated its own campaign recruiting into SAF and its main paramilitary, the Popular Defence Forces (PDF), which played a large part in the fighting along the borders of the last Sudanese civil war (1983-2005).
As part of the youth drive in Warrap, 20 representatives from the South Sudan’s security forces from within the state, will make frequent trips to the counties to mobilise people in rural areas.
Sudan Tribune on Sunday witnessed two trucks full of youth in Warrap State’s Gogrial West County, apparently heading to Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, which borders Sudan’s western Darfur region. It is unclear, whether the trucks were part of the ongoing youth mobilisation campaign.
South Sudan youth, according to the 2008 housing and population census, account for nearly 70 percent of the entire population.
Governor Malek also advocated for the establishment of a media, women and youth committee, which she identified as vital tools for effective mobilisation.
“Our media is not well developed, yet they play effective roles in society today. We need to strengthen our media so that the masses are informed. In the same way, the women and youth have to be empowered if they are to help in nation building,” she emphasised.