October 28, 2012 (JUBA) - Stephen Mabek Lang, a Parieng county commissioner of Unity state, on Saturday vehemently denied allegations that he used security forces to arrest members of a youth group alleged to have walked out of local elections.
- Refugee in Yida camp, Unity state, South Sudan (AFP)
Lang was reacting to reports claiming that he had ordered the arrest of a group of youths alleged to have walked out of a local convention intended to elect the new leadership following an administrative instruction he issued to dissolve the branch office of South Sudan’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in the area (SPLM).
“There is nothing like that. These are just allegations by people who want to cause confusion”, Lang told Sudan Tribune in an interview on Saturday. The official also denied that there is tension in the area. “There is no problem. People are living peacefully. There is no security concern. It is calm. I just came out from a function organised by youth office here. It was a function about the result of the convention,” he said.
He explained that the procedures of the organisation are only ”representative and reflective” of the basic ruling and principle guidelines contained in the constitution of the SPLM but are equally compatible with internationally acceptable best practices. “The processes and procedures were followed. Selection of the delegates was made at the village levels all the way up to the county”, he said.
Lang, however, declined to comment on allegations that 20 members of the youth group were arrested by security agents allegedly acting under his directive
Sources in Parieng claimed in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Saturday that his bodyguards were actively involved in the identification and arrest of the youth group who walked out from convention.
Angelo Chol, acting secretary general of the SPLM branch office in the state said 20 youth members were arrested but six of them were released on Saturday.
“The cause of their arrest is a long story connected with the election. 20 members were arrested but six of them have been released today. 14 are still being held. The cause of the arrests is connected to the convention from which delegates from six payams [districts] walked out because procedures were not followed from the start. Commissioner had his own lists of delegates which was protested”, Chol told Sudan Tribune.
He explained delegates from Jamjang, Gumriak, Aliny, Parieng, Kueldit and Yida payams walked out with their secretaries from the hall, reducing the quorum required for the conduction of convention.
The group, he said, who walked out of the convention hall on 17 October wrote and sent their complaints about malpractices in the processes relating the convention to the state headquarters seeking immediate respond but the acting SPLM chair in Bentiu returned the group to the organising committee.
“The youth, after walking out of the convention, decided to send lists of observations about the procedures and processes to the state but the acting, Samuel Lony, instead of addressing it decided to send them back to the same the organising committee whose work was contested. So they decided to return and locked the office of the youth league which was being contested. This was how the problem started,” he said.
James Monygon Mijak, is one of the contestants who pulled out from the race with his delegates. He also claimed in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Friday that Commissioner Lang had ordered the security forces to arrest anyone suspected of having shown opposition to the conduct of the conference.
“His bodyguards were the ones collecting the youth from their places and locking them up. They were collecting them one by one because they know them all. More than 20 people have been arrested as I am talking to you now. They were arrested because they are opposed to the way the procedures and processes relating to the conduct of the convention were conducted. People differed over the process of the elections. Six payams out of nine withdrew from the elections because it was not fair. So the leaders who pulled out with their delegates have all been arrested and are still looking for others,“ said Mijak
He claimed that the Commissioner and his group unilaterally decided to declare one of the contestants as the winner, even though the convention did not take place, because it became illegal after some members objected to it and passed a vote of no confidence against the Secretary of the Youth.
“The commissioner and his group decided to unilaterally to install Arop Riak after the delegates have pulled from the convention but he refused to listen to the objection and instead decided to arrest anyone he suspect hold different views about convention”, said Mijak.
Other contestants for the position of youth chair in the area included Charles Chol Makuei. Various sources in the county claim Makuei would have beaten Riak had the convention followed right procedures.