September 3, 2013 (WAU) - Political and social groups from various ethnic groups and sections in the greater Bahr el Ghazal region have commended the leadership of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) for appointing the new parliamentary leadership.
The national legislative assembly on Monday approved the appointment of Unity state’s Magok Rundial as the new speaker, while Mark Nyipuoc was named as the new deputy speaker, a decision described by president Salva Kiir’s supporters as a “commendable move”.
Nyipuoc replaces Daniel Awet Akot, who resigned following the appointment of the junior official after his predecessor, James Wani Igga, was appointed as the new vice-president.
Meanwhile, Jasmine Samuel was appointed as the deputy speaker representing women, replacing Fatima Nyawang Biliu, who was unable to remain in the seat as she comes from the same region and state as the new speaker.
Akot cited his seniority as the reason for his resignation, arguing it would be against convention to serve under a junior member under the same system.
Akot, a senior member of the former rebel movement-turned-ruling party, played a pivotal role during the liberation struggle with Sudan.
He was one of the 11 alternate members appointed by the late SPLM leader, John Garang, upon joining the movement while in the US, where he was sent to receive additional training after graduating from the Sudanese military academy.
Later, he was made the overall commander for the Bahr el Ghazal region, commanding Tuek Tuek battalion in 1986 until he was replaced with Augassio Akol Tong. He was assisted by his three deputies, some of whom are feared dead, while others are no longer active in politics.
As a powerful military commander, Akot, whose radio codename was “Amara”, was the final voice on all matters in the region.
He also commanded forces under the South Sudan army (SPLA) around Renk area, now a part of Upper Nile state.
Besides military assignments, Akot has held numerous political and administrative positions, and was the first post-war internal affairs minister during the regional government of Southern Sudan, a position he held until he was appointed governor of Lakes state, replacing John Lat Zachariah, in 2007.
However, he lost his bid to run as SPLM’s official nominee in the 2010 elections to former Lakes state governor Chol Tong Magay, who Kiir removed from power in January.
Akot, who is from Abiriu payam [district] in Lake’ state’s Cueibet county, was appointed as deputy speaker of the national assembly in 2010 as a political gesture by the leadership council in recognition of his contribution to the liberation struggle, a position he held until his resignation on Monday.
It is still unclear whether the president will appoint him in another position, although he remains one of Kirr’s strongest regional allies.
As well as sitting on the Greater Bahr el Ghazal elders’ council, he is also a member of the influential political bureau and is the chairperson of the SPLM branch office in Lakes state.
His supporters and political allies in the region described his decision to resign as being consistent with the conventional system, in which senior officials do not serve under junior members in the same institution.
They also praised his calls for members to remain united under the new cabinet, expressing his commitment and willingness to support the new parliamentary leadership.
HOPES FOR COOPERATION
Meanwhile, Agany Deng Kawac, a member of the national legislative assembly from Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, expressed optimism that the new cabinet line-up will work together for the good of the country and its people.
“There is no doubt that the president, as a coach, has assembled a strong, capable and dependable team that will not only help him navigate through this rough and bumpy road to the prosperous nation, but [also] lay down a strong foundation to building a friendly, peacefully united, cooperative, self-confident and developmentally focused and stable nation, he told Sudan Tribune.
He said the new cabinet consisted of capable, principled and trusted members of society from across South Sudan.
“There is no doubt about the capability of the new team, because the members were appointed by the leadership after lengthy and extensive consultative discussions”, he said
He commended the former deputy speaker for voluntarily resigning his seat, saying the decision paved the way for the immediate installation of the new leadership in the house.
“I congratulate comrade Daniel Awet Akot for showing statesmanship to voluntarily accept resigning his position so that the new leadership is installed”, he said
Daniel Matur Makuer, a native of Lakes state, also commended Akot, adding it was not the first time he had had to step down from a senior parliamentary position.
“It is true comrade Daniel is a statesman. He has always taken tough and surprising decisions against the will of his supporters, just for the sake of promoting peace and unity of the party. This is what he has been doing throughout the history of [the] liberation struggle and after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The development which I can cite among others was the acceptance to concede [the] decision of the political bureau which denied him the right to contest the 2010 elections as the official nominee of the SPLM and he accepted [this] without objection”, said Makuer.
PRAISE FOR NEW CABINET
Effesio Kon Uguak, a Western Bahr el Ghazal state advisor on peace and conflict resolution, said he had known Nyipuoc from childhood as someone “with strong principles” who is focused and “abhors scapegoating tactics”.
“I am not surprised by the appointment. The leadership knows his capabilities and where he can fit to serve the nation. He is also humble, reliable, loyal and a dedicated senior member of the SPLM”, Uguak said on Tuesday.
Aniin Deng Aniin, a senior member of the SPLM in Warrap state, also expressed confidence in the team president Kiir had assembled to work with him.
“Our president has now decided to promote the national interest by making decisions which are popular. You see this from the way he formed the cabinet and in the appointment of [the] new vice-president. He has appointed completely fresh faces, reliable, well-informed and competent cadres. These changes in the national assembly also showed that he really wanted to work with people who can work with him to deliver services to our people”, Aniin told Sudan Tribune.
He also expressed optimism that “the new team - both in the parliament and in the executive - will now be working together as comrades and not as rivals”.
“Our people want a unified and not a fractious type of government where there are too many voices saying different things”, he added.
CALLS FOR TOLERANCE
Meanwhile, religious leaders called on political representatives in the country to encourage a culture of respecting divergent views in the political system.
Bishop Isaac Dhieu of Akot Diocese in Lake state’s Rumbek East county said that under a democratic system, the spirit of tolerance and the courage to accept differing opinions should be promoted.
“I think it is healthy to allow for divergent views and promote dialogue in a democratic country like ours. When we are elected into government, it is important that we respect the views of those in different camps, whether members of the same government or those in the opposition. The same should happen to those in opposition”, said Dhieu.
The religious leader said it is disheartening to note the lapses that exist between the opposition and the government in as far as respecting divergent views.
“I will not side with anybody here, whether those in government or in opposition. We have not done well and so we need to set a tone and get to a level where those in government and in the opposition dialogue when there is a serious issue”, he said.
“We need to tone down and as leaders and lead by example. We need to encourage more dialoguing as it is cardinal to sharing good ideas”, he added.
He said the Church was the government’s vital partner in the country’s development and that its role was at the centre of tolerance in the nation, adding that political leaders must take their responsibilities and duties seriously and administer them in the spirit of excellence at all times.
He emphasised that leaders must not lean towards their own interests, but remain humble, loyal and dedicated when serving the people.