October 29, 2013 (JUBA) - The governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal Paul Malong Awan has rejected changes in the state’s parliamentary committees, leading to some politicians describing him as a "a dictator" and his leadership "divisive".
Awan was reacting to changes in which the house on Thursday 24 October, decided to remove four heads of specialised committees from their positions on the grounds that their constituencies are already represented at other levels of governments.
The affected members included Majang Ngor Kuany, head of information and public relations committee, Deng Ayom, head of physical infrastructure, Garang Zachariah Lual, finance and economic planning committee and Garang Majak Bol from legal and human right affairs.
While the removal of the other three officials was necessitated by the geographical representation in accordance to article 12 (2) of the state’stransitional constitution, the inclusion of Bol was grounded on resignation to contest the seat of the deputy speaker.
Members recommended by constituents in their counties to fill these positions included Santino Mayuat for physical infrastructure, Angok Achuol, for information and public relations, Isaac Makau, finance and economic planning and Garang Mawien, legal and human right affairs.
But Governor Awan on 28 October said it was not right to appoint "two independent candidates" into the leadership positions in the house warning that he may not recognise the parliament’s decision.
"Go to your counties and sit down as community to decide. Consult amongst yourselves and see if those who have been removed could be returned, especially Majang Ngor", a lawmaker quoted Awan as saying at the meeting on Monday with parliamentary group from his Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), soon after returning to the state from South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
But legislators, who asked not to be identified, said decision of the governor was "unconstitutional and divisive", claiming it lacks legitimacy to reverse decision of the house.
"Under article 89 of the state constitution, the decision of the house cannot be challenged by anybody. It is final and binding on anybody. It cannot be reversed unjustifiably", said one Member of Parliament, explaining that the decision of the house constitutional.
"The resolution was compatible to the state constitution. It was under article 12 sub article two of the state transitional constitution, which underlines the need for fair political representation of our constituencies at any level of government, that the members unanimously last week on Thursday 24 [October], decided to make changes in four committees. These changes were approved by the governor himself when the speaker went to consult him. He [Governor Awan] told the speaker that it was the right of the members to introduce changes at the level of committee anytime they want, provided that such changes are peaceful”, a legislator quoted Awan as saying at a meeting with the speaker last week in Aweil, the state capital.
DIVISIVE DESPOTIC ATTITUDES
The MP accused Awan of possessing divisive attitudes and resorting to dictatorial means when his actions are challenged with constitutional provisions and the normal administrative procedures.
"It is because someone was elected to represent the people, otherwise I would not have served in this government. If I were not elected by my people, I would simply have left this government just like Tong Akeen had done", said the member of parliament, referring to the minister of health who refused to be part of the state administration, citing lack of alternative views.
"There are people like the minister of parliamentary affairs, Ernest Mangok, who see the governor as their God. They are the people who have spoilt him to the extent that he does not see any logic when they call him with all the flattery names, which is the work of the opportunists. They have stopped using official title and instead started calling him King Paul, just to please him. These are the people who went to him and said those the house has nominated into the parliamentary positions are those who will work against him. They lied to the governor that the new team will work to return ex-speaker Aguer Wol Aguer”, explained the lawmaker.
Governor Awan has repeatedly run into controversies with the house over his involvement in Northern Bahr el Ghazal’s parliamentary affairs, despite constitutional provisions defining and demarcating powers between the two institutions.
In 2012 Awan removed the speaker of the house and dismissed six other members on unsubstantiated allegations that they were collaborating with other political parties in the house against activities of his Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
His action was challenged by the upper house of South Sudan’s national parliament after the members sought its intervention. In February President Salva Kiir asked Awan to reinstate the six MPs without preconditions and to hold reconciliatory conference. Awan has so far refused to comply with Kiir’s directive.