South Sudan president calls for unity in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state

From Sudan Tribune, April 18, 2011:

The president of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) on Monday broke his silence and called for peace and unity amongst the people of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.

President Salva Kiir made the remark from his Juba office while hosting a joint executive and parliamentary delegation led by the governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, Paul Malong Awan Anei. On Saturday, a 12 member delegation arrived in Juba from Northern Bahr el Ghazal via Wau, capital of Western Bahr el Ghazal from where they flew on a charted plane.

The delegation is said to have held a meeting with youth groups from Northern Bahr el Ghazal in Juba, a day after their arrival and met with Kiir on Monday. Governor Anei was appointed by presidential decree in March 2008 and contested the same seat during 2010 general elections as official candidate of the South Sudan’s governing party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) with candidates from other political parties including an independent candidate from SPLM.

Amid precipitous competition fraught with accusations and reports of intimidations, the National Elections Commission announced voting results in his favour, leaving some other candidates claiming they were rigged.

While several attempts were made to reconcile rival candidates including reinstatement of General Dau Aturjong Nyuol, who contested as independent candidate, into the regional army by South Sudan president, political differences between the two sides remain unresolved. There have been reports and allegations that individuals that voted against incumbent state administration were either suspended indefinitely or dismissed from their jobs. An independent investigation into these allegations is yet to take place.

On 23 March 2011, state security elements collaborating with police arrested nine senior government officials suspected writing a letter bearing no names, which called for a demonstration to take place in all five counties of the state, against its Governor. On the two occasions the case was brought to court, the judge dismissed it.

However, relatives and immediate family members in series of regular follow up interviews withSudan Tribune said the officials were again imprisoned, claiming that the state governor had threatened police and judicial officials with dismissal from their jobs for releasing the suspects without his consent. A police officer on duty was arrested and released after spending two days in prison for accompanying them to the court. The arrested officials include Lieutenant Colonel Garang Joong AkoonAngelo Machar AkecMario Angui LualAkol MayenditAchuen RouAdup Achier, Agiu Garang, Wieu Garang and Reverend Moses Aguer Bol Deng Dau.

Kiir responded to reports from influential groups and activists and a fact finding mission by the region’s human rights commission which were critical of the poor conditions in the prison in which the officials were being held. The president summoned the Governor, who, in his meeting with him in March, claimed not to know why the accused were being held. The Governor also claimed he had had no reports from his security on which he would have taken action.

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