Dickson speaks out on alleged youth conscriptions

By William Madouk

The leader of the breakaway South Sudan United Front/Army – Nairobi Declaration, Gen. Dickson Gatluak, bitterly denied the alleged youth recruitment in preparation for war, terming it as a mere ‘fabrication’.

This comes after the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) allied to Dr. Riek Machar accused the splinter SSUF/A under Gatluak of alluring youths with high ranks to join his rebellion against the government.

SPLA-IO military spokesperson Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, earlier told this outlet that among people SPLA-IO detained are youth who were mobilized and promoted to ranks by Gen. Gatluak.

“What happened was that Dickson has been mobilizing the youth, and whenever there is defection, there is always misinterpretation. These are youth from the area who are being mobilized by Dickson Gatluak,” Col. Lam Paul said in Mid-April.

“He (Dickson) calls them generals, even those youth he promoted to be generals, this situation provoked the insecurity in the area that led the fight,” he added.

Mr. Lam, SPLA-IO mouthpiece who was reacting to a report by Gen. Gatluak claiming that four of his officers were held captive in Rubkona after they defected to his movement – SSUF/A. 

In a statement, SSUF/A-ND said four generals were detained on April 10, 2023, in Tonga base in Rubkona county of Unity State.  

Among those arrested were; Major Gen. Puok Nyeny Koh, Major Gen. Kew Kuol Riek, Col. Thai Gatiek Zaidor Tuoal, and Cde. Guong Kew.

But Col. Lam added that SPLA-IO will coordinate with the authority in Unity State to determine their case since the detainees are civilians.

“We will make sure that they are handled by the local authority from the ground instead of the military so that their case will be heard clearly as they are civilians…. all we are trying to do is to avoid insecurity in our territory,” he noted.

Reacting to the matter, army spokesman for SSUF/A-ND, Col. Philip Deng Kuol denied the alleged youth conscription drive terming it as a ‘cheap’ and ‘baseless’ propaganda, concocted to mislead the public.

“SSUF/A takes this position to inform our peace guarantors and the general public that, our attention has been drawn by a cheap propaganda made against the SSUF/A chairman by SPLA-IO Col. Lam Paul,” Kuol said.

“That Gen. Dickson Gatluak is in the brink of mobilizing youths and promoting them into various ranks to join rebellions against the government of South Sudan,” he added.

Mr. Kuol, however, echoed that they are not recruiting any youth nor do they have intention of waging war, asserting that they are not antipeace but ready for dialogue with Juba regime.

“The leadership of SSUF/A, do hereby makes its position clear that, we do not have any intention of mobilizing youths to further wage a confrontation against the government,” Col. Kuol stressed.

“Our statement during the declaration in Nairobi can confirm it to the general public that, we are neither preparing for a fight nor being anti-peace network. But just a pro-peace forces who are ready to dialogue with the regime in Juba,” he continued.

Col. Kuol further cited that South Sudanese people have right to join any party of their own choose without being intimidated or coerce.  

In January 2022, a group of dissident generals and senior members of SSUF/A, dubbed as ‘Nairobi Declaration’ ousted Gen. Paul Malong Awan citing readiness for a peace talk with Kiir’s administration.

However, Gen. Malong kicked out the renegade generals behind his expulsion and accused them of ‘betrayal and conspiracy to weaken the party’. Yet Gatluak defied the order stating that Malong cannot dismiss him. 

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