November 7, 2012 (JUBA) - The Governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal on Wednesday called on members of the state’s parliament to endorse the transfer of the Wau County headquarters from Wau town to Bagari, warning that those objecting to the move and inciting youth to protest would bear full responsibility.
Governor Rizik Zachariah Hassan, categorically rejected reversing his decision and accused some quarters he did not name as being against the policy of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which advocates taking towns to the people. Hassan said that this was not only a slogan but it was a way to take services to remote areas.
“It was the [state] parliament which passed and adopted a resolution encouraging taking towns to the people and it is the same parliament which is now supporting the youth to protest against taking town to our people. This is a violation of the constitution and I therefore urge all members to enlighten our people about the importance of taking towns to them,” Hassan said.
Governor Hassan asked members of parliament from Wau county to let the local community open the Bagari road to allow free movement of the citizens. The road remains closed since the protest began in October. The Speaker of the Western Bahr el Ghazal Legislative Assembly, Andrea Mayar Acho, also called on Members of Parliament to embrace dialogue and to immediately intensify the peace process to end the deadlock.
“I am urging those members of parliament who come from Wau County to go back to their people at all levels in the county to give [the] right message. They need to go and tell them the importance of taking county headquarters to them,” he said.
The issue of Wau County refusing to comply with the order appears divisive as members of parliament from Raja and Jur River counties approved the administrative directive of the Governor transferring the county headquarters from Wau town.
Last a week, a group individuals from Wau County held a press conference in Juba, calling on the national government to rescue the political unrest in Wau and intervene to avert a serious insecurity and establish peace.
“Wau County is in turmoil since the State Government created Wau Municipality and transferred the County Headquarters to Bagari Payam", Anthony Sebit Jakondo, who leads the Western Bahr El Ghazal community in Juba, told reporters Wednesday.
"The national Government should intervene to restore peace, calm and unity in Wau”, Jokondo pleaded
He said the forced relocation of Wau County Headquarters to Bagari payam [district], the creation of Wau municipality with within the boundaries of Wau County and confiscation of community lands against the will of the locals were major issues of concern.
Jakondo explained that the turmoil has become an institutional conflict between the executive and legislative organs in the state. Contradicting accounts from the Governor and state parliament’s Speaker, he claimed that neither the creation of Wau Municipality with new position of Mayor and relocation Headquarters nor the State Transitional Constitution were passed by the Legislative Assembly.
The community leader warned that if the national government failed to intervene in Wau the conflict might lead to serious security problems as people continue to protest against the government’s decision. He complained that senior officials are immune to prosecution for allegedly ordering the arbitrary arrest of those opposed the administrative reshuffle.
The Wau County youth protestors say they are opposed to the government moving the headquarters to Bagari, citing the lack of infrastructure and revenue generating ability of the area. Members of parliament say that the state assembly needs to reach an agreement on whether to endorse the transfer of headquarters of the two counties.
Governor Hassan issued a gubernatorial order in October to relocate the headquarters outside Wau town. While swearing in the new appointed county commissioners, he said the relocation of the county headquarters would allow a Town Council Mayor to take necessary responsibility for running the town.