October 28, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir, has dismissed reports that he has sent a military convoy to his controversially created Yei state to help in the relocation of members of his ethnic Dinka purportedly living in a constant fear that they could become a target.
- President Salva Kiir addresses the nation at the South Sudan National Parliament in Juba, November 18, 2015. (Photo Reuters/Jok Solomon)
Presidential advisor on military affairs, Daniel Awet Akot, has denied the reports, describing them as untrue.
“I just spoke to the president of the republic to ask him about these reports and he told me that he is not aware of such reports. He said he did not send any of the institutions concerning security like the ministry of interior, national security and defence to send a military convoy to Yei. What for? There is nothing like that. The President did not send,” Akot told Sudan Tribune on Friday.
Akot was responding to reports claiming that 10 military trucks loaded with government soldiers have been dispatched to the area to help in the relocation of the members of the ethnic Dinka fearing they could be targeted by other non-Dinka tribes in the area.
The top presidential aide argued that Yei, located southwest of the capital, Juba, is part of the country and was therefore odd for the government to facilitate relocation of the citizens living there without general security threat.
Earlier reports suggested that 10 military trucks were dispatched on directive of President Kiir asking his chief of general staff, Paul Malong Awan, to relocate members of his ethnic Dinka living in Yei.
While Akot denied the reports, several government officials and private citizens have told Sudan Tribune that many of the people from the Dinka ethnic group who were living in Yei have been leaving the area in a military organized escort.
It is not clear whether this mass exodus out the town is sanctioned by the government or individual basis. Observers say the move could be both voluntary relocation and informal approval by individual officials and officers in the government and army.
“What I know is that there is no formal directive from either the office of the president or chief of general staff but I know some senior government officials and military officers who [have] relocated their family members to towns at the border from neigbouring Uganda due to the current economic crisis were forced by the developing security situation to relocate their family members once again. Because of their positions in the government and in the army, some people interpreted their involvement to mean decision of the government,” a presidential aide told Sudan Tribune Friday.
Crtics have argued that the move to relocate ethnic Dinka from Yei was to allow the army predominately members of ethplnic Dinka to target civilians in the name of hunting armed dissident groups.