5 February 2013

South Sudan: Controversial SPLM Secretary Takes Oath in Lakes State, Senior Members Boycott

Rumbek — The Lakes state branch of South Sudan's ruling party - the SPLM - has controversial appointed Mabor Ater Dhuol as the new acting party secretary on Tuesday but the swearing in ceremony in Rumbek was boycotted by senior figures.

County secretaries, members of the SPLM State Liberation Council and SPLM assistant secretaries all refused to attend but the Lakes state chairperson insisted that Mabor Ater Dhuol take the position as he had was backed SPLM Youth League and SPLM Women League.

SPLM members in Lakes state say that Dhuol's imposition is not allowed under the party's constitution, which states that the SPLM State Liberation Council must vote to approve a new state secretary.

The division over Mabor Ater Dhuol's selection erupted in September 2012 when his appointment was announced by the SPLM chairperson in Lakes state, Daniel Awet Akot.

Akot is a member of SPLM's powerful Political Bureau and the Deputy Speaker of the national parliament in Juba. In 2010 he was not selected to run as the SPLM's candidate for Governor of Lakes state despite being the incumbent.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity one of the senior officials who boycotted the ceremony told Sudan Tribune said that divisions within the SPLM in Lakes state were being increased by Akot imposing Mabor Ater Dhuol as the acting secretary of the state.

He said that the county secretaries', chairpersons and members of liberation council did not attend "because we objected [to] this appointment and therefore we cannot attend."

In a briefing to the SPLM members who did attend the ceremony, Mabor Ater Dhuol urged the SPLM secretariat and supporters of the party to work together for the unity of state and to combat insecurity.

South Sudan's president sacked the elected Governor of Lakes states, Chol Tong Mayay last month following a series of clashes between cattle herding groups resulting in the death of 25 people.

Tong was replaced by SPLM hardliner Major General Matur Chut Dhuol who is acting as Caretaker Governor. He has told politicians that he will close the state parliament if MPs continue to conducting politics and warned those arrested in connection with recent violence that they will kept in secret prison and only allowed access to a government appointed attorney.

Mabor Ater Dhuol appealed for the SPLM's youth league and women league to increase awareness and support of the military caretaker Governor to improve security and to convince young men to accept security reforms.

The new military Governor initiated a gun registration campaign on January 30 and the South Sudanese president has called for a disarmament campaign in the state.

Akot said: "I need unity among party members. I need youth entirely to support [the] security reform measure so that peaceful stage in Lakes state is quickly restored. [And I need] all women league and youth league to work together for the better dream of Lakes state."

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