Home | News    Tuesday 24 July 2012

Unity State: Leer County citizens call for removal of Commissioner


July 23, 2012 (BENTIU) - The governor of South Sudan’s oil-rich Unity State, Taban Deng Gai, is under pressure from members of the Adok ethnic group to sack the Commissioner of Leer County, after citizens and rival politicians held a demonstration on Monday accusing him not cooperating with local people.

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Speaker of the Unity State Legislative Assembly, Simon Maguek Gai, in Bentiu, South Sudan, 24 July 2012 (ST)

More than 100 people are estimated to have participated in the peaceful protest outside the governor’s office in the state capital Bentui. This is fourth time that citizens from Leer County have demanded Commissioner Stephen Taker Riak’s removal but the first time they have done so in a public demonstration.

To the surprise of the protestors Governor Gai came out of his office to address them and explain why Taker was appointed as Leer Commissioner.

The Governor denied he was responsible, claiming that Taker was appointed on the recommendation of the Speaker of the Unity State Legislative Assembly, Simon Maguek Gai.

The participants in the demonstration said they backed the governor but disagreed with his choice of Commissioner, adding that Taker was appointed because he was an ally of the governor not because he was the best choice for Leer.

Taker supported Gai in 2010 elections and was appointed commissioner when Gai won as the candidate of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), albeit in controversial circumstances. Angelina Teny, the wife of South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar, claimed she won the election fighting as an independent.

The protestors handed the governor a petition signed by 47 intellectuals and students asking that he be removed. Leer County’s population is around 70,000.

Speaker denies responsibility

However, the speaker of Unity State Legislative Assembly, Simon Maguek
Gai, denied these allegations in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

"I’m not the governor to appoint the commissioner", he said, adding that if Commissioner Taker had made mistakes the Governor was accountable.

As Speaker, Maguek said, his responsibility was "just overseeing the performance of [the] legislature" in Unity State in accordance with South Sudan’s governance structure.

Maguek denied he was keeping Taker in his position emphasising that his fate lay solely with the governor.

“I think the governor has actually told to the youths that did a peaceful demonstration that they should remain calms until their demand is made”, the speaker said.

The former Commissioner of Leer County, Franco Duoth Diu, is accused by some members of the community of instigating the protests at against Taker so he can return to the position.

Diu was sacked in mid 2009 because he supported Angelina Teny’s bid to be the SPLM’s official candidate for the governorship of Unity State. However, he denied he was acting for personal gain in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Monday.

"Whether a woman or a man we have no objection, but what we want to tell Governor we don’t want the current Commissioner", Diu said.

Diu, the current chairperson of the SPLM in Leer County, said that commissioner’s current problems were of his own making as he was not cooperating with the local population or Leer intellectuals. He said that the Bentui government had his complete backing.

“We are united as the people of Leer county that we don’t want the commissioner because of his misbehavior of making division among the people of Leer but now we are united under one umbrella including our most educated intellectuals”, Diu added.

In the petition to the governor on Monday Leer intellectuals complained that, unlike local MPs and the Governor, Commissioners are not elected but appointed by the governor. They asked that the Commissioners be appointed in a more democratic way.

Diu also accused the commissioner of trying to remove him from his position as the SPLM’s county chairman - an act which Diu said was unconstitutional under SPLM’s rules.

Political Maneuvering

Since 2010, Diu said that he and others in the area had blamed the governor for Taker’s appointment but he said that after the governors speech it was clear that he had been forced to appoint Taker by the Speaker of Unity State’s parliament.

There had been too much political maneuvering involved in Taker’s appointment, Diu said.

"The speaker was backing the commissioner because the seat he holds in the assembly was for Stephen Taker Riak, and this is an indication of appreciation to push Riak into position of commissioner through his recommendation to governor", said Diu.

Before the election, the Governor said, Taker and Maguek agreed that they would not contest the same constituency seat and in return Maguek would support Taker’s bid to become a County Commissioner after the election.

When Maguek won his seat and became Speaker in 2010 he kept his promise and persuaded the governor to appoint Taker.

Governor Gai explained this to the demonstrators outside his office, who accepted the reasons of Taker’s appointment but urged the Governor to remove him.

The politicians and students who campaigned against Taker say they will now try and persuade the Speaker to withdraw his support.

Diu also said that Taker was not well educated enough to be a commissioner or run commercial activities in the county. Diu has a diploma, while Commissioner Taker has only completed the eight year of primary school.

Many officials in South Sudan have low qualifications as a result of the country’s poor education system, a product of decades of underinvestment, neglect, and conflict. Over 70% of South Sudanese are unable to read and write.


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  • 24 July 2012 14:41, by Alfredo christiani

    Very strange, everywhere Nuer confused everything, at the level of national government, state, county, Payam, Buma, and in the army, what is wrong with you peoples? One can’t differentiates who is literates and who isn’t, from Nuer community’s .shame on you guys with railway line on your foreheads, I don’t care for those who will disagree with me .

    repondre message

    • 24 July 2012 15:16, by Jewish Ally

      Dear brother,
      you are right but try to used another moderate way bring this community to good understanding rather that. I am not from Nuer Community I am from South Sudan and that is what i know. we are all Disciples and Apostle to bring good hope to our people through positive action.

      repondre message

      • 24 July 2012 16:05, by peter

        Hey All the South Sudanese People ,

        I Appreciated Brother Jewish Ally for the statement he make ,
        there is no need for us to comments the tribe problem ,

        the community of Leer have right to chose for whoever will runn their services not interest of Governor or Speaker ,
        if Commissioner Mr Taker is not working well for the community of Leer then he can be remove ,
        but IDisagree with Guet Stateme

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    • 24 July 2012 18:35, by Thiang Geka

      Alfredo, you can just define which one of the following slogans had passed and was citting by which organization. 1- From Nimule to Jabeleen/Kosti, Raja to Gambela. 2- From Nimule to Haldfa, Algenina to Kassala. Do you remember?

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    • 24 July 2012 20:53, by Bolman

      hey Mr Alfredo please stop written yr useless acrticle preaching the tribalism issue u don’t ve any concern about Nuer who rescuing yr ass to lives without Nuer u lives indifferent countries for yr all life shutup yr damg words Mr Taker must remove next to Taban Hamed mahamed Hassan must be remove away from Unity State don’t even try to involved into Nuer home affair bullet will reach yr ass

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    • 25 July 2012 07:26, by okucu pa lotinokwan

      Very strange, everywhere Nuer confused everything, at the level of national government, state, county, Payam, Buma, and in the army, what is wrong with you peoples? One can’t differentiates who is literates and who isn’t, from Nuer community’s .shame Christiani you are very correct,but Drinka are more worser than Nuer,special the in Jonglei State.


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      • 25 July 2012 17:22, by Amin

        please stop yuor nonsence against any tribe not Nuer alone you may be a NCP elements who does not accept the domacratice right of the population leer community has a right to express their concern so there is nothing wrong with that Amin

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      • 25 July 2012 18:19, by Daniel Dak

        I would like to say that you don’t interfere with other tribes affairs if you are not belong to their tribe. second thing is that you are not deserve or fit to post comment when you never knew where you came from and who you are. What those community talked about was regarding their Commissioner who failed to fulfil their needs and want him removed by the Goveernor. I think you have no objection.

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    • 25 July 2012 08:19, by Madiing Aweil

      Dear brother Alfredo
      this is not the way you can advice people by generalized them saying that you nuer always confusing people in the national level and local, these people are expressing their rights demanding their commisioner who is not cooperating with them to be replaced I support their decision although iam not nuer by clan it is the right decision.

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      • 25 July 2012 09:09, by Alfredo christiani

        Mading aweil
        You‘re very naïve, indeed to supports sabotage, Unity state peoples want to kill SPLM /A and bring on their own party called SSIM/A .Taban Deng Gai is the only person who stood behind the SPLM, when he was convinced by late Dr Garang to return back to SPLA 1990s and FYI these guys are trying ever possible means to change the current regime, Take care

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  • 24 July 2012 16:40, by Alfredo christiani

    Dear Peter and Jewish ALLY
    Why I generalized these communities, to mention few, in 1983 Gai tut disorganized SPLA, until southerners divided themselves again in 1991 Riak Machar defected to Khartoum when SPLA forces were almost to capture Juba. Again amany Nuers CDRS including Peter Gadet, defected and joined hand with NCP in Khartoum in order to wipe out SPLA in the terriortory of south Sudan, I

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    • 24 July 2012 23:05, by panom lualbil


      You were never wrong brother, we better dont have people like them who ruined reputation of our country. There was no peace since separation from NORTH becoz of their misery behaviors. Like reading this articl 4 instance, it’s their POLITICAL RIVALS who were against TABAN GAI becoz Mr. Gai was so honest and profounded in splm’s political activities which provoked them.

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      • 25 July 2012 08:11, by Ruach

        Lielforod/Alfred and panom lielbil,
        Your days are numbered!We are not cowards like u and that is how democracy is.It is a peaceful demonstration and nothing can be commented about the whole tribe!It is not fair only God will judge your behaviour towards Naath

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    • 26 July 2012 08:56, by Don P

      Alfredo whats the tribalism for, hate wont take you anywhere. You show a complete vacuum of intellect by connecting this news article to a tribe.

      repondre message

  • 24 July 2012 17:39, by CHUOLJBOL

    Well 100 people of leer community are claiming for their rights but , when states are either unwilling or unable to do so,it will shows that this kind
    of community is not opposed to the individualism of
    persons, but to state individualism....

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  • 24 July 2012 18:44, by Thiang Geka

    I hope the people of Leer County will resolve the dispute amicably.

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  • 25 July 2012 17:02, by Amin

    bravo Leer intellectuals and heros yuoth of being successfully in approaching the state leadership on the matters affacting your community under the unsafe hand of brutals authority of Taker Riek then this is the time for the Honourable Governor to serve and rescue his poeple from unindentify practices policy by commissioner.

    repondre message

    • 25 July 2012 19:26, by Bolman

      who is Honourable Governor wrong estimation,its not sound good to everybody of Unity State to call asuch of mankind like Taban belly feeding as Honourable,I just supporting the suggestion of Leer County Interlectuals to remove my uncle taker Riek Dong next will be my Nephew Taban Belly feeding

      repondre message

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