April 26, 2014 (JUBA) – Authorities in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state are preparing to receive Kuel Aguer Kuel, the new caretaker governor appointed after his predecessor, Paul Malong Awan, became the army’s new chief of general staff.
- General Paul Malong Awan, Governor of South Sudan’s State of Northern Bahr el Ghazal (Source: paulmalongforgovernor.org)
Kuel’s appointment has sparked mixed reactions in the north western state, which borders Sudan’s Darfur region to the north, with some officials and local people protesting against his selection.
He previously served as the secretary for finance and economic affairs within the country’s governing party (SPLM) at the state level, prior to his latest appointment.
Governor Kuel’s appointment now implies only six out of the 10 elected state governors remain in office. The governors of Unity and Lakes states were both sacked last year and are currently opposing the government. Jonglei’s governor was promoted to become the minister of defence. On each occasion, however, no new election was held within three months as stipulated by South Sudan’s constitution.
Kuel was sworn in on Thursday in Juba by the chief justice Chan Reec Madut at a function graced by President Salva Kiir, a handful of government officials and relatives.
Northern Bahr el Ghazal state officials told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that a reception committee under the chairmanship of the minister of local government, Lino Adut Achier, is being assembled to enlighten the population about the reshuffle.
It remains unclear what programs the caretaker governor will start with upon resuming office work, since very little was known about his political style or ambitions.
Some observers, however, say the removal of the elected governor without the development which warranted the change, was a clear violation of the country’s Transitional Constitution.
Under the interim constitution, the president can only dismiss an elected governor or dissolve the state assembly in the event of an issue of national security.
Community leaders have previously expressed discontentment with the way the former governor was managing the states affairs. Several petitions and resolutions were also issued demanding the intervention of president Kiir, but none was responded to.
In the last community resolution in November 2013, Awan was accused of running the state like a “one man shop and dividing the society”. He was frequently accused of violating the state constitution. The most notable was the removal of state assembly speaker Aguer Wol Aguer, claiming he failed to unite state lawmakers.
However, under the state’s transition constitution, MPs and not the governor, have powers to remove the state parliament’s speaker.
Northern Bahr el Ghazal has been largely unaffected by the conflict that began in mid-December 2013 between the South Sudan army (SPLA) and rebels, known as the SPLA in Opposition, mainly consisting of defected soldiers.