October 12, 2013 (JUBA) - Some members of parliament from South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state have expressed uncertainty over whether they will have the opportunity to vote on who would be their next deputy speaker.
The fears emerged following the removal of Athiang Manok Athiang, who became the deputy speaker after his predecessor, Monica Achol William Amoi, was appointed speaker, replacing the initially elected speaker, Aguer Wol Aguer, who was removed by governor Paul Malong Awan over allegations he did not comply with a directive to resign from the seat.
The governor claimed his action was prompted by the need to “preserve unity” within the membership of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the state parliament.
His decision was subsequently reversed by the council of states which passed a resolution asking president Salva Kiir Mayardit to reinstate Aguer as the legitimate speaker, as well as six other members who were also dismissed.
Kiir responded to the upper house resolution by asking the minister in his office to write to governor Awan to reinstate the speaker and the other expelled SPLM members.
However, Awan did not implement the decision, instead taking the letter to members of the state legislative assembly and asking them to respond it, claiming he was not involved.
While the initial dispute involving the executive branch of the state administration remained unresolved, the house again removed its deputy, Athiang Manok Athiang, on 7 October, citing negative remarks he made apparently undermining the independence and integrity of the national legislative assembly.
The comments were reportedly in relation to its decision to reject Kiir’s nominee for justice minister, Telar Ring Deng.
Athiang has since apologised, claiming he had been overwhelmed by emotions at the time and was not intending to insult the house but that.
Despite making the apology, he was removed from his position which the speaker declared “vacant” on 8 October, allowing members to lobby for their preferred nominee.
According to multiple legislators, the seat is to be filled by someone from Aweil South, the same county where the former deputy came from.
Two candidates have so far emerged, with Garang Majak Bol and Isaac Makau both showing interest in the post.
Observers have claimed that if given the opportunity members would most likely vote for the latter to take up the post.
However, some members have expressed uncertainty over whether they would be allowed to vote without interference.
“We have started observing strange behaviour from some of the members who have always been behind the cause of split and dissidence. Their work is always to implement what the invisible hands want done. They have started issuing warnings to some members. Honourable Deng Nguac was told point blank to support Garang Majak, otherwise he would be removed from his position as the chairperson for [the] agriculture committee. This was uttered by Akoon Diing”, one legislator told Sudan Tribune, claiming Diing is known for reporting activities of individual lawmakers to the state governor.