27 August 2014

South Sudan: Lakes State Employees Refuse to Demonstrate in Support of Governor

Rumbek — Civil servants in Lakes state capital Rumbek have refused a request by the governor to join a protest against a bill passed by the national parliament calling for his removal.

Governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol had asked public and civil servants to attend peaceful demonstration in Rumbek's freedom square after the parliament voted in favour of a resolution on Monday demanding he be removed from office.

On Monday, the national parliament summonsed the ministers of the three key portfolios of defence, interior and national security to testify on the security situation in Lakes state.

Following the ministers testimony the House requested the military caretaker governor be unseated.

Dhuol subsequently instructed his ministry of public service to request that government employees attend the demonstration to support him to stay in office.

The instructions were receive by the public service director-general, but employees refused to comply.

A senior official in the Lakes state cabinet who requested anonymity revealed that a three-phase plan had been formulated to counter the parliament's decision and maintain governor Dhuol in office.

According to the official, the first phase was to be the staging of peaceful demonstrations across Lakes state's eight counties, while the second phase called on the state secretariat office of South Sudan's ruling party (SPLM) in Rumbek to write to the national office in the capital, Juba, rejecting the decision of lawmakers.

The third phase was the establishment committee to meet with president Salva Kiir and the national SPLM secretariat in a bid to water down the decision.

The legislative assembly has recommended the proposal be passed to the president for consideration, with the deputy interior minister also recommending a mass disarmament exercise.

Dhuol was appointed last January after elected governor Chol Tong Mayay was removed by presidential decree reportedly over his failure to curb ongoing violence between rival cattle herding groups in the state.

Under South Sudan's interim constitution an election for a new permanent governor should have been held within 60 days, but the deadline lapsed last March and no election has ever been held.

Following his appointment Dhuol introduced a series of tough new reforms and security measures, with critics accusing him of ruling the state with an "iron fist".

Despite the measures, his leadership has been marked by ongoing unrest amid a cycle of inter-clan clashes and revenge killings.

Targeted killings are on the rise across Rumbek Central, Rumbek East, Rumbek North and Cueibet counties.

On Sunday, Dhuol's daughter, Along Matur Chut Dhuol, allegedly killed pregnant mother of six in Pacong payam (district), located in the eastern part of Rumbek Central county.

Dhuol's daughter has been arrested, pending further investigation.

The state has been the scene of a fresh wave of violence following the unsolved murder earlier this month of paramount chief Apareer Chut Dhuol, who was the elder brother of the embattled governor.

While there are growing calls among Lakes state residents for Dhuol's removal, Kiir has so far overlooked the demands.

Local police say state authorities have become increasingly isolated, with the public refusing to share information with law enforcement officers, making it difficult to investigate killings and maintain law and order in the region.

Meanwhile, local media across the region are increasingly subject to threats and intimidation.

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