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Deng Bol of the Red Army Foundation whose position as chairperson is under contention has dismissed claims by some members of the foundation that he has been deposed, and a new chairman has been installed.
In a statement seen by Eye Radio on Friday, some members who said they represent the foundation’s General Assembly said Mr. Deng was to vacate the office of the chairperson in November, 2018 – but has since not done so.
According to Abraham Kuol Khamis, who undersigned the letter, they elected a new leadership -without Deng Bol.
He said they elected Gabriel Thiep Piol Lual, as the new chairperson, and Pitia Kenyi Ikuach as the deputy chairperson.
They accused Deng of corruption and mismanagement of the foundation’s funds.
In response, Deng Bol rubbished the statement by the group -saying he is still the legitimate chairperson of the Red Army Foundation.
He said the group is accusing him of receiving $250,000 from the Office of the President and left the country with the money.
But Deng denied embezzling any money, adding that he is “the leading contributor” to the organization.
In his defense, the Press Secretary in the Office of the President, Ateny Wek confirmed to the VOA that there was no such money given to Mr. Deng or the Red Army Foundation by the President.
The group in their letter further said they opened a case against Deng in the court, but Deng reportedly fled the country after a warrant of arrest was issued.
Reacting to the claims by the group on Facebook Live, Deng yesterday said he deliberately refused to respond to the summon because it came from a local court, which according to him, has no legal power over the matters of the Red Army Foundation.
“The court is run by the chiefs, and they are under the traditional authority and Local Government Act. The Red Army Foundation was registered under the National NGO Act of 2016,” a visibly irritated Deng said “I told them I cannot come, and I am not going there, and their warrant of arrest is not valid, because these people have no jurisdiction over the Red Army –at all.”
He further said the foundation’s strict code of conduct provides an avenue for such matters to be resolved internally.
“Article 33 of the foundation says that; any matter within the Red Army Foundation should be handled within the Board of Trustees,” he stated.
9 million South Sudanese pounds.
Mr. Deng instead accused Gabriel Thiep, who was reportedly elected to replace him, of misusing funds collected by the foundation for the establishment of 3 offices in greater Awiel states.
He said he facilitated a fundraising activity late last year to generate 9 million South Sudanese Pounds for Awiel branches, but the group instead used the money to allegedly bribe individuals to replace him.
“I gave them 1.2 million pounds, and accomodated them when they came to Juba. I also helped them organize a fundraising event at Nyakuron for Mading Aweil branch where they collected 9 million pounds, little did I know they will use the money against me,” Deng alluded.
Deng added that he cannot be removed through unconstitutional means, since he was elected in 2013, replacing Dr. Biar Ajak.
Six years ago, about 700 delegates gathered at Nyakuron Cultural Center in Juba to elect a new chairperson for the Foundation.
Candidates vying for the jobs of; chairman, vice-chairman and executive secretary – two for each position – gave speeches and participated in rigorous public debates, the first of its kind in South Sudan’s electoral history.
Deng Bol Aruai and his two running mates were declared winners, where he promised to help the foundation become self-reliant and beneficial to former child soldiers and the youths of South Sudan.
Over the years, the organization has grown in size, and has become more influential in driving its agenda, and that of the government.
It has diversified the foundation into different arms -such the Red Army Youth League where empowerment and employment of members into the civil service is sought.
“They should wait until we hold elections in the Board of Trustees in few weeks’ time, I have no problem. But I have not embezzled anything at all from the Red Army Foundation, and I don’t want the Red Army to be govern that way –where people arrest each other for no reason,” Deng said.
The embattled leader promised to challenge the claims of the “breakaway group” in a conventional court -with jurisdiction over matters of a legally registered organization.
Meanwhile, Pitia Kenyi who was declared by the accusers as the elected deputy chairperson of the new Red Army leadership has distance himself from the group.
The group had announced that the new leadership is made up of; Gabriel Thiep Piol, as the chairperson, Pitia Kenyi as the deputy chairperson, Dr. Abraham Chol as the Secretary General of the Assembly, and James Deng as the Executive Director.
But Mr. Pitia told Eye Radio from Terekeka town that he was not consulted by the group, and does not recognize them, or their election.
“I don’t know anything like that, and we know Deng Bol as our chairman,” he said.
Pitia said he served the Red Army Foundation formerly as the Director of Administration, and has since moved to Terekeka where he works with the state government.
He said he too does not recognize an election done by the General Assembly as insinuated by the group.
“There is nothing called General Assembly, what we have is that the Red Army Constitution had senators which was later transformed into the Board of Trustees,” Pitia concluded.
The Red Army Foundation was established as an organization dedicated to addressing social problems, especially among its own former members and South Sudan’s youth.
It is made up of young people who were once recruited into the SPLA as boys in the early 1980s.
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