Sudan: Ex-Police Chief Denies Failure to Contain Protests

Wau — Former Western Bahr el Ghazal state police commissioner, Sabit Joseph Makelele, has categorically rejected claims that he failed to contain protests on 8 and 9 December in which people were killed and injured.

Protesters were objecting to the moving of the Wau county headquarters to Bagari, 12 miles from its previous location.

Subsequent protests took place due to the deaths in the previous protest.

Makelele told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that he faces no charges despite being fired, but acknowledged that police on his watch opened fire in an attempt to control protests which were taking place without providing authorities with the necessary prior notification.

The South Sudan army (SPLA) spokesperson, Philip Aguer, on 22 December said two police personnel wearing SPLA uniforms were arrested for committing crimes in connection to the incident.

Makelele said that "as a public official, I have been exposed to criticism, much of it empty and unfounded, including reports claiming that I have failed to contain protests."

"As of tomorrow morning, I will leave this state with my head held high, without having committed any act which I regret. None of the colleagues I have to come know and work with here have a case against me. Actually some of the officers publicly stated in the last meeting, which I held before handing over the office, that they will miss my leadership style. Some officers have said they would want to serve under me wherever I will be assigned by the headquarters," he added.

Minister of interior, Alison Manani Magaya, last week confirmed that Makelele had been suspended but did not say whether the decision was linked to the protest in the state. Magaya said the decision was an administrative issue which he did not want to be discussed in the media.

Western Bahr el Ghazal state minister of information and communications, Derik Alfred Uya, last week accused the police of failing to contain the protests and for allowing them to take place without the prior approval of the relevant authorities.

The protesters, according to Uya, were targeting the central bank branch office in the state, allegedly with the intention of looting and burning; evidenced by them being found with kerosene and firearms. Another group, he said, moved to Jebel Kheir at the outskirts of Wau town and set fire to the police camp there.

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