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JUBA - 23 Jun 2014

S Sudan defense minister denies resignation

(UPDATE 12:00) Kuol Manyang Juuk, the Minister of Defense of South Sudan, denies he has submitted his resignation to Salva Kiir on Friday. During a press conference on Monday morning in the military headquarters he fiercely denied any report on his request for being released from his job. The denial comes after three days during which the Ministry of Defense refused any comment.

Sudan Tribune-website was quoting president Salva Kiir refusing the reported resignation telling: “Comrade Kuol, this is incredible decision to make and I cannot accept it. I know there are serious and worrying issues facing the Ministry of Defense but we must handle them with care and show of leadership.”

In his resignation letter, the defense minister is reported to have said that he wants to have time off from public life to dedicate more time to looking after his family. Sudan Tribune reports also that the decision came after tensions between the minister and the new army chief of staff, Paul Malong Awan.

Citing top-level officials as well as relatives of Kuol Manyang Juuk, the news site stated that the defense minister allegedly differed with the army chief of staff over financial issues related to the payment of soldiers in the greater Upper Nile region, some of whom deserted recently after failing to receive their salaries on time. Paul Malong blamed the Defense minister to pay the Ugandan army while not paying his own soldiers.

The army chief of staff is alleged also to be reporting directly to the president, instead of going through the minister, thereby sidelining the latter, according to an ‘inside observer’ quoted by Sudan Tribune.

President Salva Kiir is said to have declined to accept the minister’s resignation on the grounds that the timing of it is not appropriate.

It is not yet clear whether Manyang Juuk will reverse his decision.

The minister, who is also a member of the SPLM Political Bureau, formerly served as governor of Jonglei, and during the wartime he was a member of the SPLM/A Political-Military High Command.

File photo