December 9, 2013 (JUBA)- Paramount chiefs from South Sudan‘s Northern Bahr el Ghazal have condemned the arrests, by government agents, of over 40 officials who allegedly opposed a pro-government rally organised in support of the state governor, Paul Malong Awan.
- The Ajak community attending a conference in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, March 12, 2012 (ST)
Multiple sources told Sudan Tribune about increased activities of security personnel, allegedly acting on directives and orders of Awan to arbitrarily carry out mass arrest, specifically individuals suspected to have opposed holding the forced protest.
Reports have it that all civil servants, mainly teachers, women groups, students and traditional leaders in the area, were on Friday , forced to attend a rally organised by the state administration against position by the community, which called on president Salva Kiir to remove the state governor and appoint caretaker leader.
Governors are elected, but the president, under article 101 (r) and (s), can remove a state governor and dissolve the state assembly in the event of a crisis in the state that threatens national security and territorial integrity.
The president, under the constitution, can appoint a caretaker governor to prepare elections within sixty (60) days after the removal of the elected governor or when parliament is dissolved.
The Aweil community, at a 30 November conference, unanimously endorsed the removal of Awan, accusing him of repeatedly violating constitutional provisions and that the president had failed to intervene in the matter, despite several complains from citizens.
A number of high profile personalities, intellectuals, youth leaders, women and members of parliament from the region attended the event, which was organised in the South Sudan capital, Juba.
Days later, the governor, angered by demands from the community, decided to hold a counter rally and conference, which saw the use of force against peoples’ own wishes.
Charles Malong Anyuon, a local politician in the area was allegedly picked out of the rally after he reportedly disagreed with the state minister of youth and sports, Mareng Chuor Deng, over the forced demonstration.
Several others, eye witnesses said, were collected from their houses after the rally and taken to undisclosed locations outside the state capital, Aweil.
Dut Majak, a senior chief in Aweil county, said that the manner in which the state authorities have decided to treat individuals suspected to have different views was “worrying”.
“What the area is witnessing these days was unheard of before. We the people of Mading Aweil are widely known for our frankness and openness. This was why people from other communities say we behave like Americans, because we are not known for back biting other people or fear telling the truth”, he told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
But what I see with your generation constitutes a great cause for concern”, he added.
LACK OF COHESION
The chief decried lack of cooperation within the community leadership to allow promotion of cohesion and social harmony, citing mushrooming political differences in every clan and sections.
“As a senior chief, I do not support arbitrary actions. Unilateral decisions do not encourage dialogue and participation of other members. This culture must be discouraged by isolating leaders with such attitudes. We do not want to see what we hear in other communities come here”, Majak stressed.
Achien Yor, a paramount chief, confirmed that some officials had been arrested, held in unknown locations and were being denied access to their family members and relatives.
“Yes, Malong Anyuon was arrested in my presence on Friday. He was mishandled before the public and I am hearing that he [Anyuon] and those they have been arrested are in a place where their family members, especially wives have not been allowed to go. They are outside Aweil town”, he said
Meanwhile a legislator in the state decried the level of poor governance in the state, saying authorities had created fear among many in the area by using security threats against the population to silence critics.
“This government has instilled fear among our people due to heavy deployment of security agents and excessive use of force", said the legislator who asked not to be named.
"But don’t be scared. It takes sacrifices to achieve set goals. The war we are fighting in the house must be kept in motion. Some of our colleagues have not been expelled but have not stopped. We are still pushing and we will keep on pushing until there is a change either in attitude or the administration in its totality”, he added.
The state lawmaker, however, urged the youth to be vigilant, enthusiastic and consistent in their decision to avoid falling into traps of the wealthy and power hungry politicians who seeks power using all sources of influences.
“The leadership as a whole has lost direction and cause of liberation. SPLM [Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement] as a historical party has lost direction and therefore to be redirected but putting it back on the track will not be easy", he stressed.
"It will require a lot of work and it is you the young people, who would have to wake up and take the responsibility and stop these leaders from spoiling the cause of the liberation. For us, our sun is setting down”, he added.