30 January 2013

South Sudan: No Room for Politics, Says Lakes State Caretaker Governor

Rumbek — Lakes state's new military caretaker governor, Maj. Gen. Matur Chut Dhuol, has detailed a set of tough new reforms to quell insecurity in the state.

Under the plans, commissioners of all eight counties have been directed to confront cattle raiders and bring them to justice. Failure to do so will result in their immediate dismissal.

He also warned members of Lakes state's legislative assembly to stop debating politics in parliament, saying he will shut down parliament if political topics continue.

On Tuesday, thousands of people in Lakes state turned out to welcome the new governor and hear his maiden speech, which covered security issues, as well as several public warnings to officials and ministers, including chiefs operating in the state.

In a rally held on Tuesday in Rumbek's freedom square, Dhuol ordered all people carrying illegal firearms to begin registering their weapons by 30 January. The order did not indicate how long the registration will be.

Dhuol stressed he was appointed for the sole purpose of "security reform", adding: "My mission in Lakes state is to stop road ambushes and cattle raiding with neighboring states."

Part of his brief, said Dhuol, was to restore peace and security before the kick-off of the 2015 national elections. He warned against those pursuing a political agenda ahead of that time, saying there was "no room for politics [from] now until 2015".

He also called upon the public to work collectively with him so as to avoid the use of military measures. He strongly warned commissioners to step up efforts against cattle raiding, ambushes along the road and inter-communal violence. Any commissioner who failed to do so would be immediately removed, he said.

He ordered the state's commissioners to report directly to him rather than the Deputy Governor, state minster of local government and law enforcement agencies.

Dhuol also urged officials and the public at large to refrain from inciting and supporting inter-communal violence and cattle raiding.

Dhuol's predecessor Chol Tong Mayay was removed from his position by presidential decree earlier this month.

Although no official reason has been given, his dismissal has been linked to the outbreak of clashes between sections of the Dinka tribe earlier this month which erupted in Rumbek central county, killing 25 people and injuring more than 30.

South Sudanese president Salva Kiir's decree broadcast on 21 January drew mixed reactions at the time, with some politicians welcoming the decision and others objecting to the governor's removal on the grounds it was unlawful.

South Sudan's parliament this week backed the decisions, declaring the move constitutional.

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