March 14, 2013 (JUBA) - The South Sudan Human Right Society Advocacy (SSHURA) on Thursday called on president Salva Kiir Mayardit to support a gubernatorial election in Lakes state, where the elected governor was removed following a month of unrest between rival ethnic groups in the area.
President Kiir in January unexpectedly issued an executive order relieving Chol Tong Mayay from his position, citing a provision in the transitional constitution which gives him powers to remove governors or dissolve a state legislative assembly in the event of a crisis that threatens national security and territorial integrity.
The president subsequently appointed Major General Matur Chut Dhuol as caretaker governor of Lakes state, however, the decree did not mention whether the new military governor was expected to prepare elections within 60 days as provided for under article 101(s) of the 2011 transitional constitution which states that a caretaker governor must organise elections.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Thursday, SSHURSA called upon Kiir to uphold the principles of the constitution in letter and spirit by ensuring that elections for the Lakes state governor are conducted in accordance with the law.
The statement, which bears signature of its executive director, Biel Butros Biel, based its recommendations on the provision of Article 101(s) and the supremacy of the constitution. SSHURSA also quotes a provision in the constitution that derives its authority from the will of the people and that it shall be the supreme law of the land.
“SSHURA calls on the president to uphold constitution which has a binding force on all persons, institutions, organs and agencies of government throughout the country”, the statement said, adding that “The authority of government at all levels shall derive from this constitution and the law”.
FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS
The group also called on the National Elections Commission to ensure the immediate formation of a Lakes state committee to “speed up the preparation, organisation and the conduct of free and fair elections” within the 60 day timeframe, as well as ensure the provision of adequate funds for its organisation.
“The National Elections Commission should stand up and follow up to ensure that the constitution is not violated and is implemented in letter and spirit,” the statement added.
The advocacy group also called on the government to support democratic will of the people of Lakes state to elect their new governor in a free and transparent process and that such responsibility should also be supported by the national parliament.
SSHURA said it was up to the national legislative assembly to ensure Kiir fulfils the spirit and end-result of Article 101(r) that allows the president to remove an elected governor and then equally demands of him to appoint a caretaker governor to organise elections within the stipulated timeframe “as required by the meaning of Article 101(s) that makes it mandatory for the president to ensure [the] holding of elections for the office of the governor whose vacancy [was] created by the implementation of Article 101(r)”.
The statement said the house should also ensure that the national executive and Lakes state executive respects the will of the citizens of Lakes State to elect a governor of their own choice.
Lakes state has been a flashpoint for cattle raids, robberies and inter-clan disputes, with Mayay’s surprise dismissal linked to an outbreak of sectional clashes earlier this month which erupted in Rumbek Central county, killing 25 people and injuring more than 30.
The president’s decree, broadcast on 21 January, drew mixed reactions at the time, with some politicians welcoming the decision and others objecting to the governor’s removal on the grounds it was unlawful.
However, South Sudan’s parliament backed the decision, declaring the move constitutional.
Dhuol has since outlined a set of tough new reforms aimed at quelling insecurity in the state and has previously warned that he would shut down parliament if members of Lakes state’s legislative assembly continued to debate politics.