July 31, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudanese from different walks of life took to the streets on Wednesday evening to celebrate the appointment of Jonglei governor Kuol Manyang Juuk; a former rebel commander.
- Kuol Mangang Juuk (ST)
Juuk’s main task will be to restructure South Sudan’s army - the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) - which fought Khartoum governments until a 2005 peace deal, gave the South the right to seceded in 2011.
The announcement of the new cabinet has been met with both relieve and wariness by South Sudanese, who are used to seeing the same cast of politicians appointed to key posts.
Persistent corruption allegations against senior figures have led to a loss of trust in many senior SPLM politicians and the new cabinet includes several politicians accused of corruption in past administrations.
Formed after a week since president Salva Kiir fired his long term deputy, Riek Machar and sacked all his 58 ministers and deputy minsters, the new cabinet has been hastily assembled.
The newly restructured government will have 31 cabinet members, including the president, his deputy and the minister in his office who has not yet been named, according to the order read on state radio.
Some of the old faces who have not been included in the new cabinet include General John Kong Nyuon, General Alfred Lado Gore, Cirino Hiteng, Peter Adwok Nyaba, Gier Chuang Aluong, Deng Alor Kuol, Kosti Manibe Ngai, John Luk Jok, Nhial Deng Nhial, Lual Acuil, Majak D’ Agoot, Madut Biar Yel, General Oyai Deng, General Salva Mathok Gengdit amongst others.
Those who have been reappointed, from the SPLM and other political parties, include Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Michael Makuei Lueth, Jemma Nunu Kumba, Awut Deng Acuil, Martin Elia Lomoro (SSDF), Stephen Dhieu Dau.
The new faces include Abdallah Deng Nhial, Ngor Kolong Ngor, Aleu Ayeny Aleu, Telar Ring Deng, Beda Machar, Agrey T,Sabuni, John Gai, Riek Gai Kok, Kuol Manyang Juuk, amongst others.
Juuk said he was happy to accept the appointment and acknowledged it was going to be a challenge. He however expressed certainty that he would be able to perform well in the new position.
"People have been talking a lot and even reached to extent that they were saying president does not listen to advice of the people. This is now the response. He was studying all these calls and now he has responded as the president. It is a challenging task but I think I will manage it if I get support of our people to work together with the president", Juuk told Sudan Tribune Wednesday.
Juuk, a senior member of the ruling SPLM said he was "happy because this is the wish of our people to serve them in the defence”, he said explaining people knows better where leaders serve better than what the leaders think for themselves.
Adut Ayuen, a soldier in the SPLA, said he was hoping Juuk will address the issues facing the rebel-group-turned-national army.
"There has been a very big problem in the ministry of defence. Some soldiers go for months without payment. No salaries, no food and no explanation. Names go missing on the payroll while on active duty. This has been going on for years and I hope the Kuol Manyang I know back in the bush, unless something has suddenly changed him like other colleagues we used to think would work for the interest of the army, will try to improve our situation. We need the confidence and moral to be restored in the army", Ayuen said.
"There is a big problem in the army. The chain of command must be established and maintained. If this does not take place, then I fear Kuol [Manyang] would still fall into the pit of his predecessors", he said without elaborating.
The soldier said he foresees difficulties for the military if reform is delayed.
“I see the next two years as partly peaceful and partly chaotic and this will not augur well for peace and stability in this country if the army is not properly looked after”, he warned.
Deng Alfred Akuoc, a native of Warrap state currently visiting Juba said president had kept faith with several close allies who add absolutely no value to the cabinet and had murky records from the previous administration.
“There are names people did not want to hear when the decree was being announced. Some people left when they heard their names. They left because these are the people who failed the president in the past and their returning to the government again means more failure,” he said
"I doubt they will be able to work together, since they tried and failed before, but I hope they will. This country is suffering", he added.
JUUK ALSO CRITICIZED
However some South Sudanese criticized Juuk’s appointment as defence minister saying he failed to quell an insurgency led by David Yau Yau and to end insecurity in the troubled state of Jonglei. They also wondered why no governor was appointed to replace him
Paul Lado, a university student in Juba appreciated the leanness of the cabinet appointed by the president but was disappointed that some individuals who failed in other capacities are recycled and brought in.
"For instance, governor Kuol Manyang Juuk is already a failure in Jonglei state. If he couldn’t provide services to his state populations and defend his state from David Yau Yau, then how do we expect him to provide services in cabinet and defend the whole country?, He said.
Tut Gatluak from Jonglei state also wondered how the elected state governor was appointed as national defence minister without a replacement in place.
"I was surprised that our elected governor was appointed a national minister and no other decree came out for his replacement. Who is our governor now?" He asked, criticizing that elected governors should not be moved around different positions without consent of the citizens who elected them.