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Unity State Commissioner sacked for accusing SPLA of massacre

Bonifacio Taban
Charles Machieng Kuol, Commissioner of Mayom County in Unity State, has been fired after blaming South Sudan’s army for a rampage that left over 200 civilians dead in the region less than two months ago.
7.07.2011  |  Bentiu
Unity State Governor Taban Deng Gai
Unity State Governor Taban Deng Gai

Mayom County Commissioner Charles Machieng Kuol alleged that the SPLA also burned down nearly 8,000 homes as it chased a rebel militia group out of the area on 21 May. He   accused the SPLA of terrorising citizens and forcing thousands to flee his county.

Over the last month, Machieng has been under pressure from Unity State Governor Taban Deng Gai to apologise for his comments. After he refused to so, he was dismissed on 30 June.

Charles Machieng Kuol confirmed that he had been fired last Friday. County Commissioners are appointed by state governors, who are elected by voters.

The former commissioner said that although he had been relieved of his position, investigations into what he calls a massacre would still be carried out. Kuol stands by his accusations that the SPLA in Mayom County, under the authorisation of state leadership, is responsible for the incident that included the torturing and killing of civilians.

Kuol added that he had faced continuing pressure to retract his statements to the media.  

SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer denied that the government of South Sudan directed the military to kill civilians and burn down 7,800 homes. Residents of Mayom County communities, who side with Kuol, are demanding answers to unanswered questions about the perpetrators.

As South Sudan approaches official independence, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has been in transition from a rebel army that fought over two decades of civil war into a national military.

According to UN figures, 1,800 people have been killed in cattle raids and other clashes between South Sudan’s numerous rebel groups and the SPLA so far this year.

After elections in April last year, many rebel groups began fighting the SPLA and the Government of South Sudan (GoSS)  when opposition candidates failed to win seats as MPs or state governors.

Earlier this year, senior SPLA figure Peter Gatdet defected and formed his own army. Accusing officials of corruption and tribalism, he has vowed to overthrow the Juba government.