August 20, 2012 (WASHINGTON) — A presidential advisor to South Sudan has been forced to leave Juba after the disclosure of a letter urging 75 officials to return some four billion dollars they are accused of stealing, a news report has unveiled .
According to a report published on Monday by McClatchy Newspapers, an Ethiopian-American advisor to President Salva Kiir was forced to flee Juba fearing for his safety following the release of a letter sent to influential officials and individuals close to the government.
- Ted Dagne, (L) late Congressman Payne and John Prendergast of ENOUGH at a meeting on Darfur crisis in 2008 (file photo Enough Project)
Ted Dagne, hired by the UN to advise Kiir on anti-corruption policy and international relations, played a key role in the preparation of the letter which was made public to embarrass the officials who are accused of stealing four billion dollars.
On 3 May Kiir asked the 75 officials to return the money they have allegedly stolen and offered an amnesty if they deposit it in a special bank account, Nairobi, Kenya.
However the letter, released one month later on 4 June, was contested by many officials who denied the accusation as some others openly disputed the $4 billion figure. The UN told McClatchy Newspapers it "is not familiar" with how the $4 billion figure was calculated.
Following his departure to Nairobi after the release of the letter, Dagne received a message from the South Sudanese president telling him that "he should remain outside South Sudan." Dagne later tried to return, but was refused entry, the report said.
However, the United Nations said he is still on contract with its mission in South Sudan.
Dagne, who has lived in Juba since January 2012, was picked for the coveted Presidential Advisor position by the head of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), the Norwegian Hilde Johnson, who was closely involved in the peace talks between Khartoum and the former SPLM rebels.
The influential US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, supported the appointment of the former Norwegian minister at the head of UNMISS.
Dagne, and Rice, were together in a close circle of people who worked over the past years to mobilise American officials and Congress members to support the South Sudanese cause. The group narrated in a long story published by Reuters last July how they worked to achieve South Sudan’s independence.
The Ethiopian American researcher and activist told US newspapers, when leaving Juba, that he was very frustrated by the extent of corruption, tribal wars and lack of development in the new nation.