March 13, 2013 (JUBA) - The speaker of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State Legislative, Aguer Wol Aguer, who was recently returned to the on the directive of South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir, has vowed to promote unity among members of the state’s parliament.
Kiir’s intervention followed a resolution from South Sudan’s Council of States suggesting the Governor Paul Malong Awan’s decision to remove Aguer, which was endorsed by a controversial assembly vote which Aguer boycotted. Six other MPs who were removed the same time.
As well as removing the seven politicians from their position the Governor had also attempted to remove them from South Sudan’s ruling party the SPLM. The issue of Aguer’s reinstatement appears to have split MPs in the northwestern border state.
In an interview with Sudan Tribune on Wednesday Aguer said:“We have a lot to do together as members of parliament. We have a lot to do together as members of one political party. We have a lot to do together as members of the same area, one state, one country, one people. We should be looking at ourselves as brothers and sisters even though we sometimes miss each other on some political matters for one reason or the other. We should be able to resolve them amicably without having to look to other people for intervention”.
Aguer also responded to the negative reaction among some MPs following president Kiir’s intervention and denied he would seek to retaliate against his rivals by appointing his allies to positions within the assembly.
“I am going to work together with all members of parliament. This is the assurance I have made. There should be no fear and panic about my return. We are all one and I will work hard to promote and preserve peace and unity among our people and the parliament with other institutions in the state.
He said the he “cherishes constructive criticism as the means to adjust and correct mistakes”.
But some members of parliament including Athiang Manok Athiang, who became the state’s deputy speaker after the removal of Aguer last year, said that his return was “illegal and unconstitutional”.
"The office of the president has been deceived by some individuals including former speaker Aguer and acted on that deception. The minister in the office of the president, Emmanuel Lowilla, who wrote [the] reinstatement letter to the governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, Paul Malong Awan, has no right to impose someone on the people without their knowledge".
The lawmaker, who back in June was one of the MPs who vote to oust Aguer, said that the speaker of the parliament should be chosen by its elected members and not appointed from Juba.
The current deputy speaker’s position was backed by Deng Nguac, the head of agriculture committee in the state assembly.
"What impression will it make if a speaker is appointed by the president and another speaker is elected in the house members? Will we not have two speakers in one house”, Nguac asked in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Tuesday from Aweil town, capital of the state.
However, William Wel, another member of the state parliament said last week that the house had accepted decision of the president to reinstate speaker and the other six expelled members of parliament. The MP said that those unhappy with Kiir’s directive were expressing personal opinions that did not represent the majority of assembly members.
Governor Awan removed speaker Aguer Wol Aguer in June 2012 allegedly to meet demands of some MPs who alleged that he was unable to manage parliamentary affairs. Other charges included his failure to unite members and claims of misappropriating funds, charges he immediately dismissed and challenged opponents to provide documentary evidence to substantiate claims.
Some members of the public from Northern Bahr el Ghazal have welcomed the decision of the president and called for Aguer to be reinstated with immediate effect, so that the state can move on.
When asked in the matter on Tuesday Ateny Wek Ateny, an activist from Northern Bahr el Ghazal said:
“The directive of the president has set the limit for gubernatorial tyranny. It is also wise to acknowledge and appreciate the work done by the Council of States in setting the parameters upon which the states powers could be limited. For some governors, they are the law, the constitution – and they are even the state, then the people are mere subjects who deserve no respect. The expulsion of the six elected MPs in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State Legislative Assembly and the unconstitutional unseating of the legitimate Speaker of the Parliament may speak of the arrogance and naivety in some of Northern Bahr el Ghazal gubernatorial decrees, a leading member of South Sudan Civil Society organization”.
Ateny said there was no provision in the transitional constitution of South Sudan which gives governor a right to unilaterally expel members of parliament on unsubstantiated allegations for committing a perceived offense, trying to scrutinise the governor, or for showing difference in opinion.
The activist explained that it is the prerogative and constitutional function of the members of parliament to scrutinise the executive.
“The absence of such powers may paralyse the doctrine of check and balance and the parliament in actual sense would cease to operate because it will have no constitutional mandate if they suppose to do is interfered with. The members of parliament are not puppets of the executive and I am glad the president has intervened and cemented resolution of the council of states”, he added.
Another native of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, writing on a community web forum, also expressed a desire to change the way things are done in the country, especially the way some senior government officials handle matters of public interest.
“I believe the confusion is systemic. Whom do we blame? The president who runs the country with presidential decrees and directives, the governors who think that they are also, as the president, have absolute right to run their respective states with gubernatorial decrees or the MPs who blindly implement what the president wants or what the governors want”.
Nothing will change anytime soon, she said, unless the country develops a constitution that makes sense and brings forth leaders who may not only respect the law of the land but also show utmost reverence to the constitution.