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Gogrial state youth petition removal of governor over several charges

March 15, 2016 (JUBA) - Youth leaders backed by politicians and opinion leaders as well as elders in Gogrial state, home to President Salva Kiir and one of the controversial new 28 states, have petitioned the removal of governor Abraham Gum Makuac, who has been in office for less than three months since his appointment in December 2015.

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Women from a cattle camp walk near Gogrial (Photo Tim Freccia/Enough Project)

Some of the leading charges, according to the petition copy obtained by Sudan Tribune, include death threats to a legislator, inability to manage the affairs of the state as well as illegal arrest and detention of a youth leader on allegedly falsified charges.

Other controversial charges on the list are allegations that the new governor of the tiny Gogrial state, curved from former Warrap state, had appointed members of his cabinet and advisors from among those who were not recommended by their own communities and the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) branch office in the state.

The governor is accused of having allegedly appointed majority of the members of the cabinet ministers and county commissioners from his clan and associates of some business tycoons in the area who have allegedly bribed him to appoint some of their relatives in order to be able to help them get and secure approval of contracts from the government.

The petition claimed that some of the ministers who were not recommended by their own communities and party officials and were appointed by the governor on unclear basis, include Aguok South county commissioner, Kuanyin Kuanyin, state health minister, Angui Manyuot, deputy governor, Akot Abiem and minister of local government and law enforcement agencies, Aleu Akol.

Deputy governor, Akot Abiem, for example, according to the petition, was appointed on the recommendation of a business tycoon, Makiir Gai, who allegedly has been paying for unofficial trips and accommodations of the governor and his family members whenever he goes to Juba and other places in and outside the country as well as for other internal activities.

The motive of Makiir Gai for paying for services of the governor and his family members, according to the petition, is to gain unfettered access and influence to the governor and his deputy.

Other motives are for the governor to help him gain social status and supremacy within Aguok community against politicians such as presidential advisor on decentralization and intergovernmental linkage, Tor Deng Mawien and former chairperson of parliamentary affairs at the national legislative assembly, James Lual Kuel.

Gai is allegedly unpopular among politicians in the area and therefore wants to bring up from within the communities of his rivals people he would use to help him fight his rivals and to achieve business ambitions.

The minister of local government, Aleu Akol, is a son to a sister of Adim Adim, another business tycoon who allegedly bought the governor a V-8 vehicle, one of the expensive vehicles driven by people of high class category in the country.

“The people the governor had appointed are either those who had given him cash in return for appointment or relatives. Governor Gum himself had confessed this in many occasions that he has listened to what the people are saying and that they should leave it that way because a mistake has been done and he looks forward to adjusting it someday,” the petition reads in part.

The youth also accused governor Gum of appointing illiterate officials - people who do not know how to read and write - into the cabinet and parliamentary leadership positions.

The group, backed by prominent members of Jieng (Dinka) Council of Elders (JCE), a self-appointed group of influential ethnic Dinka politicians and relatives of president Salva Kiir and his political allies, cited the state minister of information, Adior Kuol Amuom and Atong Manyuat, speaker of Gogrial parliament, as examples of illiterate officials the governor has appointed without party or community consent and approval.

One of the youth leaders however told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that governor Gum had now resorted to intimidation because he has “lost connections and contacts with the communities, presidency and elderly politicians from Gogrial state because of the way he has been conducting himself since he was appointed into the office.”

“We know that he was appointed recently but this cannot stop us to ask for his removal because he has started on a wrong footing. You know that right now police are targeting all youth. This is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated,” Simon Yel Deng, a youth member from the area told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday from Kuacjok town.

Governor Gum, according to Deng, was not the choice of the people of Gogrial and his appointment caught many by surprise. The youth said he was not afraid speaking out even if he knows authorities would hunt him with threats and intimidations for speaking out.

“I want to say this and it must be clear to whoever will get this message that no amount of threats and intimidations will stop us as youth of Gogrial state from speaking out against these abuses of power and intimidation as a way to silence people, which is unacceptable. We will not allow this to happen,” said Deng.

Former Warrap state information minister, Ariech Mayar Ariech, said he has no personal problem with the governor but that his problem is how the governor has been running the affairs of the area and resources since he was appointed to the office, saying he has been disregarding consultations and turning to be autocratic as if he were running a personal business.

“The man has forgotten that he is in the public office, not personal business. No one was talking about him when he was in the army headquarters in Wunyiik,” said Ariech referring to the headquarters of the 3rd infantry division of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

The 3rd infantry division where the new governor Gum came from which used to look after former states of Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap, with Northern Bahr el Ghazal state now has been divided into three new states of Lol, Aweil and Aweil East while Warrap, the smallest state in South Sudan in terms of territory, has also been divided into three new states of Twic, Tonj and Twic states.

“If you don’t want to be touched, stay in your house or stay out of public office and do other private business. But if you make mistake to accept public office then be ready to perform to the expectations of the people or quit. And this should be one of the things our leaders should understand about holding public position,” Ariech reminded.

‘They have to know that they are going to be the subject of criticisms and praises. No threats will do. Anything done well by your government will earn you "praise" and anything that done wrong by government will earn criticism," regardless of who did it. This is what the leadership is all about,” he said.

The vocal legislator asserted that there is no secret that bad leadership at the top has always been a hinder to the economic, political, and social development.