By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
October 21, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan government has unexpectedly recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia in a move an official described as “a normal administrative practice”.
Family sources told Sudan Tribune that David Dang Kong was asked by the foreign affairs ministry to return to capital, Juba within 72 hours.
But Mawien Makol, the foreign affairs spokesperson downplayed the incident, saying it was done within the ministry’s jurisdiction.
“This is a normal administrative practice to recall any of our diplomats for briefing at the headquarters on policy matters and for them to get other directives to help them be able to carry out day to today activities and foreign services with confidence while in countries of deployment,” he said on Tuesday.
Unconfirmed reports, however, say Kong’s summons were mainly due to his alleged involvement in covert activities with South Sudanese opposition forces.
“He is claimed to have leaked sensitive and classified diplomatic information to the rebels,” a source who preferred anonymity told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, sections of the Nuer community in Ethiopia have expressed fears that the summoned diplomat could be harshly treated if he returned to Juba.
“As a community we suspect something behind his instantaneous call,” said Peter Jack Kuon, a spokesperson for the community.
“We advocate for reinstating Kong if the government has no intention behind his immediate call,” he added.
Kuon also claimed that the first secretary at the South Sudanese embassy in Eritrea, David Mayan Gatkuoth, was previously summoned in a similar manner, but was never heard from again.
Conflict in South Sudan, which erupted in mid-December last year following a political dispute within the ruling SPLM party, has led to fierce fighting between government forces and those loyal to former vice president-turned rebel leader, Riek Machar.
The conflict, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced over 1.5 million, has increasingly divided communities along tribal lines.