August 13, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state governor, Louis Lobong Lojore, has denied media reports that he called for investigation of the former vice-president Riek Machar over allegations that he acted contrary to ruling party’s (SPLM) code of conduct.
- Eastern Equatoria state Governor Louis Lobong Lojore speaking at the consultative conference in Juba, May 9, 2013 (Larco Lomoyat)
Lobong had earlier been quoted saying the former vice-president expressed his views publicly about the weaknesses of the government and party instead of using the existing structures.
The governor was echoing the views expressed by a senior member of the SPLM national secretariat who allegedly said the party would investigate its second powerful leader, two weeks after his removal from the vice-presidency.
But Machar, last week, criticised the comments attributed to the Eastern Equatoria governor Lojore, saying it infringes on his freedoms.
The ex-vice president, while in government, had enumerated a number of challenges in both government and party, citing corruption, tribalism, economy, insecurity, poor international relations and party’s loss of vision and direction as major weaknesses.
However, Lobong has strongly denied his statement was directed at Machar, saying he simply made a generalised criticism.
“Machar is our deputy chairperson, who is senior to me, even if he violated the party code of conduct I have no mandate to order his investigation or anything equivalent to that,” Lobong was quoted saying.
“What I said was that anybody who violated the party code of conduct should be investigated", he added.
"I wondered why our deputy chairperson is so concerned about my statement".
It is not clear why the governor took so long to respond to these media reports, only to wait for the former vice-president’s reactions on the matter.
“I believe governor Louis Lobong had a loose tongue and actually said what he was quoted of saying, and this is why he did not react to the first publication. But the culture of denials has become a way of life among our officials who spit out unpleasant comments only to regret and deny them later,” said William Deng, a native of Jonglei state.
“I also wondered why the learned governor would wonder about the concern of the party deputy chairperson when he did not come out to deny the statements quoting him against expressions of his deputy chairperson," he added.
Lojore’s silence for a week, Deng stressed, confirms what was quoted and published about him, adding that it was right for the deputy chairperson to react to Lobong’s statement.
Wanji Samuel, who hails from Western Bahr el Ghazal state, said it was important to respect the party’s code of conduct, but added that this should not mean curtailing the freedom of expression.
“I agree with governor Louis Lobong that the party’s code of conduct should be adhered to. I however disagree with him on his understanding that expressing oneself on issues of public concern also means violating the code of conduct,” he said.
He said even the party’s structures, which Lobong talks about, do not meet to discuss the challenges, adding that transparency on matters of public concern also mattered a lot.