South Sudan’s office of the president has denied losing one million dollars to a minister in charge of the highest office in the land, describing earlier press reports as “far-fetched lies.”
In a statement released by presidential press secretary, Ateny Wek Ateny, on Tuesday, President Salva Kiir’s office said the minister alleged to have stolen the cash is on a “private visit” to neighbouring Kenya.
“There is no money stolen from the Office of the President,” partly reads the one-page-press statement.
Social media was awash with the allegation of minister in the office of the president, Awan Guol Riak, had broken into cash basement in President Kiir’s office and took $1 million and ran away with it en-route to Canada where he previously returned from as a re-settler.
Ateny accused the social media users and some on-line papers for spreading “another propaganda aimed to divert the attention of the President away from real political issues and putting the country back to normalcy.”
Awan Guol Riak has stolen more than $ 1,000,000 (one Million USD) from the President’s briefcase were mere far-fetched and wanting fabrications in every sense of the word,” said Ateny in the statement extended to DB on Tuesday, which referred to the first websites that published the allegation.
“The President has neither had such huge amount of money in his private briefcase, nor did the Minister ever have any access to the President’s private properties, if any,” he added.
Allegation of money losses are however not new in President Kiir’s office. In 2013, millions of dollars were stolen when the finance office was broken into. An investigation by anti-graft body concluded that the president’s senior office officials colluded to steal the cash but no one was held answerable.
A chief administrator, who was suspended following the disappearance of money was reinstated after a brief suspension, but lately was accused of stealing another amount of money in the office and had to be removed again from the office of the president.
Ateny however admitted that minister Guol is on a private visit to Nairobi, Kenya, without providing further details.“The Minister in the Office of the President is on his private visit to Kenya and would come back as soon as possible. He never tries to leave for Canada at any point in time while in Kenya,” he said.
The news sources claimed that the director general for external security, Duoth Guet, broke the news about the minister’s runaway with the money.Some newly established websites and news blogs have also been accused of lack of credibility as they base their stories on rumours and fabrications in order to draw public attention about their existence.
Ateny called for calm among government supporters who might be disappointed with the accusations of officials benefiting from scarce resources.South Sudanese government is facing financial deficit due to the war and low global oil prices and any reports of ministers spending lavishly would trigger a huge outcry.