August 12, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan government on Tuesday acknowledged making changes within its police force in Bahr el Ghazal region, saying they were normal administrative changes within the institution.
The move saw Maj Gen. Akot Deng Akot, the police commissioner for Western Bahr el Ghazal swapped with his Northern Bahr el Ghazal counterpart, Maj Gen. Peter Mading Duor.
“These are administrative changes necessitated by circumstances. It is not the policy of the government that a police commissioner must be someone from the area where that officer comes,” the police chief, Gen. Pieng Deng Pieng, told Sudan Tribune Tuesday.
Although he did not elaborate further on what promoted these abrupt changes, police sources claimed the move was “political”.
“This was a directive from the higher authority and the inspector general [of police] had to comply because there is a concern that the current security situation in Northern Bahr el Ghazal requires someone like Akot Deng. It is believed by the leadership that Akot would handle this situation well,” a police source told Sudan Tribune Tuesday.
Local officials, however, said these changes could have made to counter the massive defection of youth from Northern Bahr el Ghazal in to the rebellion led by South Sudan’s former vice-president, Riek Machar.
“Because Gen. Akot comes from the same area with Gen. Dau [Aturjong], the government feels it would be wise sending someone with significant influence in the community so that more defections from security organs in the area from members of the community are contained,” an observer told Sudan Tribune.
The only way to save the situation, he said, was for the new police commissioner to persuade the community or exert full authority over them.
“Gen. Mading Duor did not exert authority because he fears his actions would be misinterpreted by the local population and their politicians since he comes from Warrap state where president Salva Kiir comes,” noted the observer.