23 July 2012

Sudan: N. Bahr El Ghazal Elects First Female Speaker Amid Controversy

Wau — Northern Bahr el Ghazal's Legislative Assembly on Monday held a parliamentary ceremony to swear in the state's first female speaker speaker, days after the house approved a new cabinet in controversial circumstances.

Officials and members of the state assembly told Sudan Tribune that Monica Achol William Amoi is the first female legislator to ascend to the top-level parliamentary position since the state was created in 1994.

Athiang Manok Athiang became the new deputy speaker in a session boycotted by former speaker, Aguer Wol Aguer, and nine other members of parliament.

The ex-speaker cited breaches of Article 46 (1) (b) of the state;s transitional constitution, which he said prohibited the house from carryout any activity after the session had been officially adjoined.

Amoi in her addressing parliament after taking her oath of office praised state governor Paul Malong Awan for the achievements made by his administration.

She pledged parliamentary support and cooperation in delivering services and insuring security. The new speaker expressed confidence that women had much to contribute in building the new nation of South Sudan.

Just over a year ago South Sudan seceded from Sudan as part of a 2005 peace deal ending decades of conflict.

She further stressed that respect and confidence in women as equal partners would benefit social, economic and political decision making.

In a copy of her speech received by Sudan Tribune Amoi said:

"Time has come for us to equally dance with our men in political arena. No man is born a politician, and no woman is born a cook! I am confident and would like to register my heartfelt gratitude and honor and assure you again that the female Members of this Assembly are determined to discharge their political duties in various political parties and am sure that we will not let you down in the process of the nation building."

Majang Ngor Kuany, another former speaker of the house welcomed decision of the members and praised the house for electing woman speaker, arguing that Amoi would be a role model to the rest of South Sudan's nine states.

Amoi's election "means a lot", he said. "It sends clear message to the rest of the nine state of South Sudan that women can take any leadership position and hold it well to serve the people", Kuany told Sudan Tribune on Monday from Aweil town, capital of the state.

He said he was confident that the new speaker would unite the house to work together with the executive branch of the state government and other institutions in delivering services.

The lawmaker said that out of the parliament's 35 members 10, including the ex-speaker, walked out leaving 25 members to elect Amoi and her deputy.

The walkout "did not affect anything" the MP said, as the "majority of the members remained."

Daniel Akol Diing, another member of the house equally approved election of the new speaker, adding that decision of the house was meant to create "unity and harmony" among members.

However, Aguer Wol Aguer, the former speaker said that the decision lacks constitutional provisions and violates not only transitional constitution of the state but South Sudan's transitional constitution, brought into being on 9 July 2011 on the day of the country's independence.

"They unilaterally decided to hold a session and elected new speaker and the deputy without following any single constitutional procedures", Aguer told Sudan Tribune on Monday from Aweil town.

He expressed disappointment at the way the members of parliament had treated him.

Northern Bahr El Ghazal's MPs had been divided by his decision to approve the impeachment of the state's former minister of finance, Ronald Ruay Deng. The house had passed a vote of no confidence against the ex-finance minister after he failed to explain irregularities in the 2011 budget.

Deng claimed that the MPs who sided with him wanted to promote transparency and accountability in the expenditure of public resources.

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