Crowds wave the Sudanese flag as they greet President Omar al-Bashir outside Khartoum airport on September 28, 2012 upon his return from Addis Ababa.
JOHANNESBURG – Seven South Sudanese ambassadors are involved in a dispute with Juba over being recalled, stating they are waiting for their salaries to be paid so they can pay rent on their apartments and other expenses.
As the diplomatic dispute escalates, three former American soldiers, with dubious pasts, have been deported from South Sudan after they entered the country without visas.
The South Sudanese government wrote to the heads of its diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom, Sudan, Germany, India, Egypt, Uganda and Eritrea, asking them to report in person to the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the capital Juba.
The 14 June letter carried the signature of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deng Alor Kuol, the Sudan Tribune reported on Wednesday.
“The esteemed Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation would like to inform you that the above-cited decision has been taken by the leadership of the ministry, you are therefore to avail yourselves within 60 days to expedite the process of handing over to the most senior diplomats,” read the letter.
However, the South Sudanese diplomats strongly contested the decision, claiming they would be unable to return before receiving their salaries to pay for, amongst other things, the rent on their apartments.
But dismissing that the recall was out of the ordinary, Mawien Makol, Juba’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said that a recall was part of normal administrative measures, where a period since the diplomats were deployed to specific countries had elapsed.
“This is a normal recall. It is part of the routine changes when the period of deployment has elapsed,” said Makol.
Meanwhile, in another related development, three American former soldiers with questionable histories, were deported from South Sudan on Tuesday after they were found to not be in possession of the legal document allowing them to enter the country.
“We received comprehensive reports from local authorities in Kapoeta State, the Immigration and the Military Intelligence of Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA), that on June 20, three Americans attempted to enter the country without proper documents,” said police spokesman Brigadier Daniel Justin.
“Their visas had not been approved, they were not tourists nor investment agents. They stayed for three days in Narus until they were returned to Kenya. This is the only information we have received,” added Justin.
The Americans were subsequently returned to Kenya on 22 June.
“Kenya was their point of entry, so they were asked to return to Kenya and they went. If they come back with legal documents, they would be welcomed,” said the police spokesperson.
The three Americans were identified as Alex Jared Zweifelholfer, Craig Austin Lang and William Wright-Martinovich.
Zweifelholfer, is a 21-year-old Private First Class of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and the 82nd Airborne Division. He is reportedly wanted in America since October 2016 for deserting his unit. Media reports also claim his social media posts indicate his participation in the Ukrainian civil war, the Tribune reported.
Lang, a 27-year-old former US Army soldier, reportedly drove from his base in Fort Bliss, Texas, non-stop to North Carolina two years ago, with a car loaded with claymore mines and two M4 rifles after his partner allegedly sent him various videos of relations with other men.
Lang had driven to North Carolina in an attempt to mine the perimeter of the house in which his wife was living with claymores in an attempt to murder her.
The former soldier later went to the Ukraine and participated in the civil war, although it is unknown which side of the war he fought on.
Little is known about Martinovich, a former US Marine, who is also thought to have left the army to participate in the Ukrainian civil war.