21 February 2014

South Sudan: Lakes State Authorities Suspend Four Over Teachers' Protest

Rumbek — Authorities in South Sudan's Lakes state have suspended four senior officials who allegedly organised Wednesday's teachers' demonstrations in the capital, Rumbek.

The suspension of the four officials came in the wake of an immediate order from the state caretaker Governor, Maj. Gen Matur Chut Dhuol.

They included the Secretary General of the state, Martin Maciec Kuc, Director General in the ministry of public services and labour, Abraham Makur Mangok, Director General in the ministry of education, Kongor Deng Kongor and James Kon Chadhor, the head of Lakes state workers trader union.

Governor Dhuol accused the four officials of misleading the public on issues concerning payment of civil servants' allowances, which the central government had not yet approved.

"The allowances payment was only scheduled for the organised forces and the army, but no civil servant was being given allowance pay," the governor told a local radio on Thursday.

One of the suspended officials, however, dismissed the governors' claims insisting that the central government in Juba had granted payment of allowances to employees at all levels of government.

"The Director General in the finance [ministry] paid allowances to all director generals of different ministries with amount of 3,000 South Sudanese pounds each, leaving all junior staffs and junior directors without allowances," said one of the directors who requested anonymity.

The official instead accused the governor of allegedly planning to divert allowances meant for teachers and civil servants for his private house construction in his home village at Pacong payam in Rumbek East County. The area is located 12 miles away from Rumbek Central County.

"Their allowances have been diverted by the governor to construct his private house," the official claimed, adding that the governor vowed to arrest anyone who questioned his decision.

On Wednesday, A group of teachers who mobilised themselves across schools operating within Rumbek town described the Lakes state government's decision to suspend their allowances as a "war within to destabilise education" by the caretaker governor.

"This governor is having more problems with youth and educated people" a protesting teacher told Sudan Tribune. The governor has been fighting with young people and the educational establishment ever since he was appointed by President Salva Kiir, 13 months ago.

"South Sudan is our government and I wonder why [President] Kiir is not listening to us. He is not seeing our suffering. We receiving only 300 SSP [less than $100]", added the teacher.

Governor Dhuol, on Tuesday sent a message to payment committees to stop payment of teachers' allowance. On the same day, students warned the Lakes state government that any delay in re-opening schools will cause demonstrations.

On February 3, the Lakes state ministry of education, science and technology sent orders to all schools head teachers to immediately postpone the reopening of schools until further notice. In a letter signed by the Director General in the ministry of education, Ustaz David Deng Agok indicated no reason for the postponement.

"We are not happy with how this governor is acting on state affairs. He is mistreating everyone and assuming that his is the best. Now red line on education is touch by him. We will not allow him like his torture innocent people in his Langcok military secret cell" said a teacher who asked for anonymity.

Since Dhuol's appointment in January 2013, youth, activists and intellectuals have been at odds with him and called for him to be removed or for elections to be held. So far President Kiir has overlooked their calls.

(ST).

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