6 January 2013

South Sudanese in Diaspora Petition President Kiir Over Wau Killings

Juba — A committee of South Sudanese living in the Diaspora have petitioned President Salva Kiir over the recent spate of killing of unarmed protestors and civilians in Wau, the Western Bahr el Ghazal state capital.

At least 20 protestors, the state government claims, died in Wau during separate demonstrations held in protest against the relocation of Wau country headquarters, but other officials say the death toll was much higher.

The incident follows last year's decision by the state council of ministers to transfer Wau County administrative structures to Bagari, located about 48 miles from Wau town. The decision also led to the resignation of Peter Miskin, the former Wau County commissioner.

In a strongly worded letter, the Western Bahr el Ghazal committee in the diaspora has asked South Sudanese authorities to investigate the killings and bring those who committed these crimes to justice.

The committee, in the petition, copied to the Speaker of South Sudan National Assembly, James Wani Igga, US envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Princeton Lyman, among others urges government to "establish rule of law for the rights, freedom, liberty, and protection of civilians."

"The death of our people has no statute of limitation".

Meanwhile, the committee, in its petition extended to Sudan Tribune, have asked President Kiir to remove Rizik Zakaria Hassan, the Governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal from the gubernatorial position.

In recent weeks, however, there have been similar calls for the removal of the state governor from various section of the population, a move the president seems to disagree with.

On a 24 December visit to Wau, President Kiir backed the council of ministers' decision for the re-location of the county headquarters; a move he said was in line with the ruling party's (SPLM) vision of taking town to the people.

The South Sudan leader, during the visit, also assured the population of the protection from security forces, against elements whom he said were out to sabotage government programmes and destroy peoples' properties.

The Diaspora group, meanwhile, called for the immediate release of all political prisoners arrested in relation to last month's protests, citing a long list, which includes lawmakers, civil servants, journalists and activists.

"[The state should] cease further arbitrary arrests and detentions of officials, intellectuals, youth, women, and men who are simply exercising their rights as free citizens," the petition reads in part.

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