October 14, 2013 (BENTIU) - The caretaker governor of Unity state was removed from his position representing Mayom county in the national parliament by a presidential decree read out on South Sudan state television on Sunday.
- South Sudan president Salva Kiir (AP)
The move prompted rumours that Unity state’s caretaker governor, Joseph Nguen Monytuel, had fallen out with South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir, who appointed Monytuel to replace the elected governor Taban Deng Gai in July this year.
Nyaliep John Dak, a spokesperson of Unity state government told Sudan Tribune that the president had the right to remove Monytuel from the Nation Legislative Assembly.
Governor Monytuel, she said, had requested that Kiir remove him from his duties as a constituency MP so that someone else could take on the role which he could no longer fulfill adequately since his promotion to governor.
Sunday’s presidential decree read out on South Sudan Television (SSTV) removed Monytuel as the MP for Mayom county and immediately replaced him with Nyuon Janguan Luoy.
However, many people in Unity state have interpreted Kiir’s actions as a slackening of confidence in the governor following a dispute to relocate a oil refinery from neighbouring Warrap state.
President Kiir is from Warrap and the same dispute was, according to the opinion of some Bentiu residents, a contributing factor in the downfall of Monytuel’s predecessor Taban Deng Gai.
But spokeswoman Dak said that many citizens had misunderstood the decree and insisted that the the president and caretaker governor had a close relationship.
Kiir and Monytuel had no “political confrontation”, she said, dismissing allegations to the contrary as propaganda by the governor’s opponents.
On Saturday, caretaker governor Monytuel fired political advisor Tap Malual Wun, who is reported to have been lobbying Kiir to be promoted to the position of governor.
Under South Sudan’s constitution the president has the right to remove an elected governor if there is a threat to national security or sovereignty. However, in such a scenario an election is supposed to be held within three months.
This has been ignored by the ruling SPLM in Unity state and neighbouring Lakes state where Kiir sacked and replaced the elected governor in January.
Currently there are no signs that elections will be held before the scheduled polls in 2015, which will be the first since South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011.