The South Sudan government has agreed to pay more than 18 million South Sudanese Pounds ($6.3 million) to cover the hotel bills of former rebel officials who are being integrated into the army, a government official said Monday.
“These are the bills of... those who came when the government was making talks with the people of (David) Yau Yau and others with former militias in Khartoum," Information Minister Michael Makuei said after a Council of Ministers meeting.
Yau Yau reached a peace deal with the government of President Salva Kiir in January of this year and was named the chief administrator of Pibor County in Jonglei state. The former student of theology had been leading an on-again, off-again rebellion in Jonglei state since 2010, when he failed to win a seat in the state parliament.
Yau Yau is one of several rebel and militia leaders who have accepted amnesty offers from President Kiir since South Sudan became independent in 2011.
Wani Michael, a civil society activist working with the Youth Empowerment and Advocacy Forum in Juba, disagreed with the decision to pick up the tab for the civil servants and government officials.
"Approving 18 million South Sudanese pounds for hotel bills, and seeing children and women dying in the hospital with no drugs, seeing people drinking unclean water, seeing things where services are supposed to be provided are not being provided... I think it is not a good system,” he said.
Instead of paying officials' hotel bills, Wani said government money should be spent on developing South Sudan.
Last month, according to local online Radio Tamazuj, the Council of Ministers approved the payment of 13.2 million South Sudanese pounds ($4.6 million) to cover the bills of civil servants who took refuge in hotels after receiving death threats when violence broke out in the capital city a year ago.