Two high ranking military officials resigned from the army in South Sudan last week; Brigadier General Henry Oyay Nyago, former judge advocate of the army, and Colonel Khalid Ono Loki, former head of the military courts. Each man’s resignation letter accused President Salva Kiir of corruption and ethnic bias. This has brought greater attention to President Kiir’s struggle to maintain support from his country and officials.
South Sudan has been suffering from civil war since December of 2013. This war has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and over 1.5 million displaced refugees. The inflation rate reached 800 percent in the past year, and the army has formerly cited low pay as a reason for the violent acts being committed against innocent civilians. The UN has 15,000 peacekeepers stationed in South Sudan and warns that genocide is brewing in its current climate of violence.
General Nyago addressed his resignation letter to President Kiir and wrote, “I cannot continue to be silent or taciturn when you are finishing and slaughtering the innocent people of South Sudan.” General Nyago further accuses the government of overlooking rape so frequently, that it has become a “daily game” played by soldiers, especially those who are members of the Dinka tribe who have no fear of punishment. According to The Associated Press, Colonel Loki’s letter “describes a system of justice that is arbitrary, corrupt and discriminatory against those who are not part of the president’s Dinka ethnic group.” Between these two men, the government has been accused of ethnic cleansing of the non-Dinka minority by way of systematically ordered killings, the murder of prisoners of war, unlawful seizure of citizens’ property, inducting child soldiers into their army, and dismissing serious crimes committed by Dinka individuals. Despite these accusations and the loss of two top officials, Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang has stated, “these resignations won’t have any negative bearing on the national army.”
Despite this announcement, General Nyago and Colonel Loki were not the only two to resign from the South Sudanese government last week. They were preceded by General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, previously the Deputy Chief of General Staff for Logistics, and General Gabriel Duop Lam, the Minister of Labor and Public Service. General Swaka spoke about his displeasure over the domination in the army by Dinka officials. General Lam joined the rebel leader Riek Machar, currently exiled in South Africa. Deutsche Welle warns that these frequent resignations of high-level officials “highlight a deep problem” within the government of South Sudan, which paired with the UN’s warning of potentially impending genocide, creates a dark outlook for the future of the country.