Bentiu — Dozens of armed men stormed Unity state assembly last week, blocking lawmakers from accessing the premise, officials told Sudan Tribune. The impromptu move came as lawmakers planned to have the current assembly speaker, Simon Maguek Gai, impeached.
On Thursday, unidentified armed men occasionally walked past the assembly building, completing sealing off all its entrances and denied anyone access. The speaker was also denied from entering the assembly.
"This is a complete coup. We cannot call it an assembly procedure because you cannot just go and close the assembly or even close the office of the speaker, while you had never removed him from his position", said Gai.
"It is not the right procedure and we completely condemn it, added the speaker. Its remains unclear under whose instructions the gunmen acted. Several lawmakers, however, interpreted it as an attempt to intimidate them from removing Gai, whom they lost confidence in.
32 out of 49 MPs, according to Jany Mut Deng, signed a petition on Monday declaring they had lost confidence in Gai's leadership. Deng insisted the refusal by the speaker to peacefully vacate his office had allegedly created tension in the community, prompting previous attempts by few individuals to shut down the assembly.
"Since yesterday, we gave him [Gai] something like 24 hours to leave the office because he has been voted out, there is no need for him to sit in the office again as the speaker", said the lawmaker.
The embattled speaker is mainly being accused of routinely failing to deliver bills to the governor, in addition to allegedly hiring incompetent clerks to run the law-making body.
Gai, however, denies all charges against him and blames the state lawmakers of failing to follow proper procedures in their attempts to have him impeached.
"Once there is a motion, the motion is tabled into assembly. It is discussed and the members vote. Once they get the majority to remove me, then I cannot just remain on position. So those who claim to have removed me are wrong", the speaker said.
Gail, who plans to convene the assembly to explain his position, vowed to step aside should MPs correctly follow procedures of removing a speaker from office.
John Kaway Monyjang, the information chairperson in the assembly, says the situation was getting out of hand.
The lawmaker, who is out rightly opposes Gai's leadership, said sending armed men to the assembly worsens the current matter.
"We are using voting, we don't intimidate anybody, we don't do anything, we do things peacefully and we are the ones to vote," said Monyjang.
What I can tell the people of Unity state what is happening it is against our constitution, the lawmaker added.