June 23, 2014 (RUMBEK) – Police in Lakes state capital Rumbek say thousands of youth have deserted their cattle camps and headed for the bush where they are threatening to launch an offensive against the state government if military caretaker governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol goes ahead with a disarmament initiative.
A senior officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said pastoralists had become increasingly frustrated at the state administration’s inability to quell ongoing inter-clan clashes and revenge killings.
“They (pastoralist youths) have deserted counties headquarters and cattle camps and now youth are camping in [the] jungle with threats that if disarmament is declared they will launch attacks [against the] state administration” the high profile officer said.
Meanwhile, thousands of students have been forced to drop out of their studies after the government restricted the payment of school fees for those sponsored under the previous administration of former elected governor Chol Tong Mayay.
The officer said there was now growing calls for Dhuol to be removed, although president Salva Kiir has so far overlooked the calls.
“There is high isolation of [the] state administration by both traditional leaders, students and activists,” he said.
Pastoralist youths who spoke to Sudan Tribune from their hideout in Lakes state have confirmed they had deserted their counties and were camping in the bush amid rumours that Dhuol was set to launch a disarmament campaign.
Many of those in hiding lost friends or relatives in revenge killings, while others were victims of the notoriously secretive Langcok military prison, which has now been shut down.
Aguot Majak said he had lost his 24-year-old brother, Matur Kedit Mamer, who was allegedly killed by a military guard at Langcok.
Family members and security sources spoken to separately by Sudan Tribune said that military guards had buried Mamer before sending a letter to the executive chief informing him of the death.
Majak says he has taken part in tribal clashes and five highway attacks in a bid to avenge his brother’s killing.
Having already lost family members during South Sudan’s protracted civil war with the north, he says he has nothing left to lose.
“I am here like nothing, I am like nobody, I have nothing [to] care [for] – my brother died with [the] legacy of [my] family and I am left [an] orphan,” he said.
“Today Matur Chut with his soldiers under Kiir kill[ed] my brother without reason. I choose to die with more people,” he added.
Lakes state politics were thrown in to turmoil last January after Kiir removed Mayay and appointed Dhuol in his place to reform security in the region.
However, Dhuol’s measures have been repeatedly criticised for being overly harsh and doing little to stem tribal unrest across the state.
The measures introduced by Dhuol include:
• The creation of a military prison at Langcok in the north of Rumbek Central county.
• Denying those arrested on suspicion of involvement in cattle raiding and inter-communal violence of access to legal representation.
• Warning the commissioners of all eight counties that they will be sacked if they fail to confront cattle raiders and bring them to justice.
• Threatening to close Lakes state’s legislative assembly if politicians continue to debate political issues.
• Banning the sale of alcohol except at six specific hotels.
• Requiring that all firearms in the state be registered.