March 19, 2014 (BOR) - The government of South Sudan’s Jonglei state have again ordered civil servants, state members of parliament, state ministers and others to return to the state capital of Bor and resume their normal activities just weeks after the government retook the key town from rebels.
- During the conflict between the South Sudanese army and rebels, which began in December 2013, the Duk Lost Boys Clinic in Jonglei state was looted and attacked. (Photo: John Dau Foundation. March 2014)
When the young nation was plunged into a crisis in mid-December when rival soldiers began fighting the capital Juba, the conflict soon spread to Jonglei where a large part of the military defected and seized control of Bor.
Thousands fled the area in fear of retribution for the killings carried out in Juba carried by government forces, including 5,694 people who sought shelter at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Bor.
Over 700,000 people have been displaced within the country, mainly from Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile state, as well as the capital Juba. As many as 10,000 people have died according to some estimates.
"People are supposed to come back, our forces have chased away the rebels, very far away from Duk County and I think they will not come back in the near future. We are telling our civilians to come back homes instead of staying in the rains in Mingkaman [in neighbouring Lakes state] and in Juba", explained acting governor of Jonglei, Aquila Maluth Mam in Bor on Wednesday.
He said the government has been in control of Jonglei since the SPLA retook Bor from the rebel in February.
"Yes we have started already, people are working and we are going to open some schools soon. Some officials came today, some are going to come tomorrow and probably the governor comes on Friday with others", said the minister while briefing Sudan Tribune in Bor.
The United Nations fears that if people do not return to their land soon and plant crops before the rainy season there could be devastating consequences and potential even for parts of South Sudan to experience famine.
DEFECTED OFFICIALS SACKED IN JONGLEI
Following the crisis, politicians in Bor who joined the rebels, who are being led by former vice-president Riek Machar, were sacked by a gubernatorial decree in January, Sudan Tribune has learned.
These officials included the former deputy governor, Hussein Maar Nyuot, the minister of law enforcement, Gabriel Duop Lam, the minister of physical infrastructure, Manawe Peter, and minister of education Stephen Par Kuol.
Many county commissioners were also sacked for siding with the rebels.
Most of them, as with the ministers came from Machar’s Nuer ethnic group, who president Salva Kiir’s forces are accused of targetted during the first days of the conflict in Juba. The conflict has in some areas taken on an ethnic dimension despite the crisis being triggered by a political power struggle within the ruling SPLM.
Machar denies staging a coup attempt to oust President Salva Kiir but has since assumed leadership of a loose coalition of defected soldiers and armed civilians, are accused of targetting members of the Dinka community in some areas of South Sudan, including Bor, where some local MPs claim over 2,000 people were killed.
The list of sacked county commissioners in Jonglei, according acting governor Aquila Maluth Mam includes: Kuang Rambang of Akobo County, Matien Kuol of Fangak County, Simon Hoth Duoth of Uror county, Wany Juet of Nyirol County and James Mawich Makuach of Ayod County.
It is unclear when these vacancies will be filled, although they could be reappointed as part of the stalled peace process being mediated in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
SCHOOLS TO OPEN IN BOR
The acting governor said Bor A and Bor A mixed primary schools in the heart of Bor town were ready to resume normal classes on Thursday.
However, he admitted that there were few pupils currently residing in Bor and a lack of teachers.
Bor and Malex secondary schools will need renovations before teaching begins as some classes and offices were "heavily destroyed" during the conflict, Maluth said after touring the schools with Jonglei’s minister of agriculture, Mayen Ngor.