June 23, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s minister of defence, Kuol Manyang Juuk, has denied media reports he had resigned, describing the claims as an attempt to “create instability in the government”.
- South Sudan’s defence minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, pictured following a cabinet meeting in Juba on 17 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)
“Reports that I have resigned are not correct,” he told reporters at the army’s headquarters in the capital, Juba, on Monday. “I am still holding my position.”
He maintained there were no rift between himself and the new chief of staff, General Paul Malong, whom he explained has the overall control of army operations.
“General Paul Malong Awan is the one who controls the army for operation. My role as a minister is to provide support and guidance”, explained minister Juuk at a news conference on Monday in Juba.
Juuk’s comments come after a week of public speculation about his role amid reports president Salva Kiir had refused to accept his resignation.
Some observers interpreted his public comments as formal acceptance of Kiir’s decision to reject his resignation.
Sources close to the minister said he had felt undermined by Awan’s monopoly over security issues.
There have also been claims Awan reportedly blamed Juuk for the two-month delay in making salary payments to government troops fighting rebels in the Greater Upper Nile region.
However, Juuk claims the reports were circulated in a bid to create political instability and uncertainty within the ruling SPLM.
“I have not submitted any resignation and I don’t know where they (news outlets) picked up this story,” said Juuk.
“I think it is a creation by those who want to create instability in the government and it is not the first time,” he added.
Undisclosed sources told news outlets last week that Juuk was quitting his position after relations soured with Awan, the former governor of Jonglei state, who along with Juuk is considered a close personal ally of the president.
Juuk said the reports targeting him and others members of the government have surged since armed conflict erupted in the country more than six months ago.
“Four months ago, it was alleged that I revealed that the government is paying the Ugandan army which was totally false. Of course, we know these are people who want to undermine or embarrass the government,” he said.
During Monday’s press conference the minister conceded there had been delays in the payment of salaries for government soldiers deployed in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states, where the national army (SPLA) is struggling to contain a spiralling rebellion under the leadership of former vice-president Riek Machar Teny.
“Yes, there is a delay in paying salaries, but we are working to address this,” Juuk told reporters without providing further details on the reasons for the delay.