August 26, 2014 (RUMBEK) – South Sudan’s national parliament has passed a bill recommending the removal of Lakes state’s military caretaker governor, Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol.
The bill came after the parliament summonsed the ministries of defence, interior and national security on Monday to explain the current security situation in Lakes state.
Defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk said 300 people, killed including women and children, were killed within the last thee months alone, with many more suffering gunshot wounds.
Meanwhile, deputy minister for interior Jadhallah Augustion described clashes in the state capital, Rumbek, as a “cancer” on South Sudan, urging lawmakers to approve the motion for Dhuol’s removal as governor.
He said a new governor will be tasked with overseeing reforms to the justice and law enforcement sectors.
The minister for national security, Abuto Mamur Mete, has blamed ongoing insecurity in Lakes state on a lack of unity within the leadership, noting that a culture of revenge had taken root as more unauthorised arms fell into the hands of pastoralist youth, contributing to a break down in law and order.
Parliamentary speaker Magok Rundial accepted the motion put forward by Zechariah Matur Makuer, calling on president Salva Kiir to issue a decree for Dhuol’s removal.
Mete said Dhuol’s removal would be in the best interests of national security.
“In order that the state should be stable and security realised, the change in the state leadership should be an option as called for by the citizens of the state,” he said.
“If the state caretaker fails to manage [the] government affairs of the state, as is the case now in Lakes State, and rather, contributes to cases of insecurity, it is incumbent upon the president to call back the governor as stipulated in Article 101,” Mete added.
The chairperson of the Lakes state caucus in the national parliament, Daniel Dhieu Matuet, also supported the ministers’ proposal to remove Dhuol as governor.
“I would like to appeal to this House to approve the removal of governor Matur Chut Dhuol so that a conducive atmosphere is created and then all of us will go to Lakes state to solve issues such as non-payment of chiefs’ salaries in the whole state, which led to the loss of control over youth,” Matuet told lawmakers.
The legislative assembly has recommended the proposal be passed to the president for consideration, with the deputy interior minister also recommending a mass disarmament exercise.
Dhuol was appointed last January after elected governor Chol Tong Mayay was removed by presidential decree reportedly over his failure to curb ongoing violence between rival battle herding groups.
Under South Sudan’s interim constitution an election for a new permanent governor should have been held within 60 days, but the deadline lapsed on 21 March and no election has ever been held.
Following his appointment Dhuol introduced a series of tough new measures, with critics accusing him of ruling the state with “an iron fist”.
Despite the measures, his leadership has been marked by ongoing unrest amid a cycle of inter-clan clashes and revenge killings.
The state has been the scene of a fresh wave of violence following the unsolved murder earlier this month of paramount chief Apareer Chut Dhuol, who was the elder brother of the embattled governor.
There are growing calls among Lakes state residents for Dhuol’s removal, but Kiir has so far overlooked the demands.
Local police say state authorities have become increasingly isolated, with the public refusing to share information with law enforcement officers, making in difficult to investigate killings and maintain law and order in the region.