June 10, 2014 (RUMBEK) – Lakes state’s military caretaker governor, Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol, has dismissed 3,800 men recruited by the state to support officers from the South Sudan Police Services in the counties.
- Lakes state governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol (far right) pictured with two soldiers from the South Sudan army’s sixth division (ST)
Dhuol justified the decision by saying that the presidential committee had refused to pay the salary of the officers and that their names were no longer on the general payroll.
The men’s payments were stopped in March following the committee’s decision.
In statement to state government-owned FM-98 radio, Dhuol said the decision to sack the men came after the presidential committee failed to recognise their names. The body has been tasked with verifying the names of organised forces being paid in the state.
According to statements by Dhuol to the radio station, the men were not trained police officers, but had been providing assistance for the past two years as organised forces to help quell tribal violence in the counties.
Although they had been due to be recruited into the police force, Dhuol said the police service had no budget to retain them.
They were subsequently returned to their counties without pay after the committee found their names had not been included on the payroll.
“These forces were helping, working in they counties as organised forces – that was their duties,” said Dhuol.
“They were not real police, but they were to help in clashes in the counties. They were to join the police but police have no budget to pay them,” he added.
On 5 June, Dhuol ordered the state’s eight county commissioners to forcefully recruit youth to join South Sudan’s national army (SPLA).
Under the orders, commissioners have been directed to recruit 800 youths from within their counties and to use force if necessary against those who resist.
The measures are aimed at recruiting 6,400 youths across the state, although seven county commissioner have so far refused to carry out the orders.
Rumbek Central county commissioner Mawat Manuer, the only commissioner to impose the directive, has instructed county chiefs and youth leaders to mobilise young men for recruitment and has reportedly threatened to dismiss chiefs who fail to recruit youth to fight rebel forces in South Sudan.
“Those chiefs who will fail to bring me their youth to join the army will be sacked – you are mandated by the governor’s order to recruit youth,” he said. “Anyone who will not apply this order will lose his position before I lose my position,” he added.
However, authorities in Wulu, Rumbek East, Yirol West, Yirol East, Cueibet and Awerial counties have distanced themselves from the governor’s mandate.
Lakes state youth activist Moses Ater called on Dhuol to step down, accusing him of warmongering despite efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully.
“This imposed caretaker governor must step down, otherwise force will be used against him to step down,” said Ater.
“I hear president Salva Kiir talking about peace and not about war. Where is this governor getting orders of recruiting youth to join the army from?” he added.
Youth activists and traditional authorities have repeatedly called for Dhuol’s removal amid claims he has failed to stem ongoing violence and tribal conflict in the state, although Kiir has so far overlooked the calls.
Forces loyal to Kiir have been fighting rebel forces aligned with former vice-president since mid-December last year when political tensions within the ruling SPLM turned violent.