May 14, 2014 (RUMBEK) – The leader of Lakes state’s youth association, Thon Makoi Chawul, has denied allegations that its members had opted to join in a rebellion in support of former elected governor Chol Tong Mayay, who was removed by presidential decree in January 2013.
- Lakes state youth have denied joining a rebellion in support of former governor Chol Tong Mayay, who was removed in January 2013 (ST)
Youth activists, traditional authorities and civil society have repeatedly called on president Salva Kiir to remove military caretaker governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol, who was appointed after Mayay was stood down, amid growing unease over his harsh security measures.
A press statement from the youth association obtained by Sudan Tribune counters comments by the deputy minister of information, Rachael Nyadak Paul, who was quoted as saying that “the tribal conflicts in Lakes state have now turned out to be [a] rebellion by elements loyal to former governor Chol Tong Mayay”.
However, Chawul has called on the deputy minister to withdraw the statements, saying the wider Lakes state community had been dismayed by the claims, which were made following an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers convened to deliberate on current security issues in the country.
“This is not true and must be withdrawn as it is defamatory and damaging [to] the integrity and undisputable loyalty of this state to the cause of the government and the people of South Sudan,” said Chawul.
Despite being unhappy with Dhuol’s leadership style, he maintains that youth in the state have no intention of becoming involved in any rebellion.
“The leadership of the association is neither defending Chol Tong [Mayay] nor his supporters, but would like to make it clear that the prevailing waves of conflict in our state have nothing to do with any kind of rebellion,” he said. “They are merely tribal feuds deeply rooted in local animosities ... which have dogged the communities long before the inception of the semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan in 2005; before any state governor, current or former,” the statement adds.
Sudan Tribune was unable to independently verify the presence of an active rebellion in the state and it is not known whether any government installations have been attacked.
Lakes state has become hub for cattle raiding and continues to be locked in a cycle of inter-clan revenge clashes.
Dhuol has been accused of ruling with an “iron fist”, but Kiir has so far overlooked calls for him to be removed.
Lakes state youth have also refused to join a military force recruited to fight against the Nuer ethnic group, leading to increased tensions with the state and central government in Juba.
Political divisions in South Sudan’s ruling SPLM party triggered a brutal conflict five months ago, pitting government loyalists against rebels aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar.
The armed opposition group consists largely of defected soldiers and ethnic militias from the Nuer tribe, to which Machar belongs.