By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
February 18, 2013 (BENTIU) - A majority of members of the Unity state parliament passed a "vote of no confidence" against the assembly’s Speaker, Simon Maguek Gai, on Monday, accusing him of not abiding by South Sudan transitional constitution.
- Simon Maguek Gai (Hirondelle)
In the vote, which the MPs called a week ago, 28 out of the states 48 parliamentarians, who are all from South Sudan’s ruling party - the SPLM - voted to impeach Gai for actions contrary to constitution of Unity state and national laws.
The Speaker boycotted the parliament on Monday forcing the MPs to vote outside the Unity state Legislative Assembly in Bentiu. It is alleged that he told security personnel and assembly’s secretary to hide the keys of the building.
The MPs who voted to remove Gai say that he illegally passed a controversial policy in July last year to reduced civil servant salaries without putting it to a vote. For over a year South Sudan has suffered from an economic crisis since it stopped exporting oil through Sudan as part of a transit fee dispute.
They also accused the speaker of;
- appointing clerks who were unable to perform basic tasks; not publishing the legislative agenda;
- grounding three government vehicles and hiring them out to MPs;
- failing to form a parliamentary committee to review revenue collection;
- diverting funds allocated for the operation of the assembly into his own businesses by lending money to some MPs at an interest rate of 30%;
- and that all bills passed by the assembly had not been compiled and submitted to the Unity state governor for him to sign.
James Nguany Chakuoth, the chief whip of SPLM members in the state assembly tried to persuade the 28 SPLM MPs to attend a meeting of the SPLM caucus in the state to discuss the matter. He said that Unity State’s Governor, Taban Deng Gai was not in a position to support the removal of speaker.
The vote has created considerable political pressure for Speaker Gai to be resign.
In the state’s transitional constitution article 65 (1&3) and the conduct of business section 12 & 13 (B) read together with section 15 (1) gives the state legislature the right to elect and remove any office holder in the assembly.