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Sudan Tribune

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Sudan’s E. Equatoria speaker ousted in civilian coup

By Isaac Vuni

April 15, 2007 (JUBA) — The Chairman of Specialized Committee for Legislation and Legal Affairs of Eastern Equatoria State Assembly, Hon. Ohisa Lais said Governor Brigadier General Alosio Emor Ojetuk and his associates have overthrown the legitimate administration of parliament of the State in a civilian coup and illegally installed a new Speaker and the Deputy Speaker without due process of the Law.

He said the an-procedural motion moved by Hon. Paul Okot Bara and allies has failed to present their motion to the Speaker as stipulated under article 40 of the Conduct of Business 2006 and instate preferred to bring their motion under urgent and important matter.

He say the motion (nicknamed ten million) moved by Hon. Paul Okot Bara was rejected by the August House because it failed to follow the right procedures which the associates of Governor Ojetuk did not want it to be subjected to legal procedures. Besides, he says, it has never been investigated by the Assembly nor by any competent court, remarks Ohisa Lais.

Instead of listening to what should have been done to enhance the motion, Governor Ojetuk’s associates were shouting, hackling and name calling in the hall that prompted the legitimate Hon. Speaker to adjoin the sitting No.26 in order to pave ways for procedural matters to be sorted out as it was clear that the very Speaker cannot chair the sitting because he is one of the accused, says Ohisa Lais.

Hon. Ohisa Lais accused Governor Ojetuk and his associates of intentionally refusing to hand in written the notice of impeachment to the Speaker, so that the Speaker could pass nothing to the relevant committee nor announce it to the Assembly.

He further say after adjournment of sitting No. 26, Governor Ojetuk and his associates decided to hardly formed an Adhoc committee that immediately after an hour of adjournment took over the administration of the Assembly, Closed the offices of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, Governor Ojetuk deployed police around the parliament building and at the same time ordered the Speaker and the Deputy to remain in their houses (house arrest). In the process of executing Governor’s order, police harassed the Deputy Speaker Hon. Marko Lokitoi Lokuta, he claimed.

At the same time, Hon. Lais say, the Adhoc committee was directed by Governor Ojetuk to organize for election of a new Speaker and the Deputy, which took place on April 11th 2007 at 10 am with Hon. Sabina Dario, proclaimed the elected new Speaker and Hon. Martin Odwar the Deputy Speaker despite lack of quorum.

When contacted on phone, Hon. Marko Lokitoi Lokuta disclosed that the new Speaker, Hon. Sabina Dario got 12 votes out of 18 members in attendance while Hon. Martin Odwar was elected the new Deputy Speaker under the supervision of Governor Ojetuk and they were sworn in by Hon. Arungole Rino Loremo, Chairman of Assembly Specialized Committee of Development, Economic, Public Accounts and Finance as legitimate Judges of the state declined to attend the un constitutional swearing in ceremony, claimed Hon. Lokuta.

“This is a Coup Against the Legitimate Authority of People’s parliament”, remarks Hon, Ohisa Lais, Chairman of Legislation and Legal affairs of Eastern Equatoria Legislative Assembly.

Therefore, he adds, “We still regard the posts of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker as being not legally vacated”.

As a Chairman of Assembly Legislation and Legal affairs, I observed that allegations raised against the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker was of character assassination and misuse of service funds (US$13,568) but No resolution was passed by the Assembly for the impeachment of the Speaker and his Deputy, he comment.

The presentation of the urgent and important matter was un-procedural and contradicts provisions of article 29(1), 25(4) and 26(d) of the state Assembly Conduct of Business 2006 and it further violets article 40(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) of the Conduct of Business 2006 because its an impeachment that has to go through processes of Assembly Conduct of Business 2006, says Hon. Ohisa Lais.

He further says the Honorable members who signed the impeachment of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker acted under article 40(1) of the Conduct of Business 2006 whish states; “In accordance with provision of the Interim Constitution of Eastern Equatoria State, a notice for the impeachment of the Governor or Deputy Governor may be presented to the Speaker provided that such impeachment motion shall be signed by at least one-third of member of the Assembly”; adding that the 29 members who signed the impeachment motion were not voting in a normal session of the parliament.

Articles 40 (2) of the Conduct of Business 2006 states; “The Speaker after receipt of the notice of motion for the impeachment under subsection (1) thereof passes the motion to the appropriate committee of the Assembly and announces the same to the Assembly”

Meanwhile the supposedly ousted Speaker, Hon. Adelino Michale Opi said the claimed of misused of service funds was unfounded and that he has used the said amount for purchase of VSAT for internet connection and computers for the Assembly and has the necessary document to that effects.

“If I was given chance to explain on the alleged funds embezzlement, I would have presented my accusers with receipts and items bought for the benefit of state Assembly. Nevertheless, I would like the constitutional court now to handle the issue so that it clear my name on unfounded allegations”, declared Hon. Adelino Michale Opi.

Speaking in an exclusive interview after Sunday prayer today, Hon. Adelino Opi revealed that he escapes Torit from Governor Ojetuk’s order of house arrest through the assistant of education convoy vehicles that was bringing Sudan School Certificate examination papers to Juba after he has heard of several attacks on senior officials who are opposed to Governor Ojetuk plot of ousting him and other potential members of the assembly whom Governor Ojetuk presumed to be his potential opponents.

Hon. Opi claimed that his car was ambushed by suspected gunmen between Lelere and Khor Dilep area, about 19 miles from Torit town and that it was suspected to have been send by Governor Ojetuk.

He revealed that on April 6th 2007, the house of former Finance Minister was attacked at night by a gunman who opened fire at the wife and children of former Finance Minister and was later arrested by security organ. The assailant was suspected to have been hired by Governor Alosio Emor Ojetuk.

Hon. Opi further revealed that the house of Emanuel Ambrose Ocholimoi, Chairman Specialized Committee of Assembly on Security and Public Order was attacked on April 6th. The SPLM State Secretary, Mr. Felix Otuduha Srio house was attacked on April 8th and the house of Hon. Jeremiah Africa, the Leader of Government Business in the Assembly was also attacked by gunmen on April 9th who are suspected to have been send by the Governor who is keen in targeting his opponent for elimination through in tricks, claim Hon. Opi.

Earlier Hon. Speaker Adelino Michale Opi had written a letter to SPLM State Secretary, Mr. Felix Otuduha Siro, seeking an urgent meeting of SPLM party to address yet another new crisis unfolding in the Interim Legislative Assembly saying, “Eastern Equatoria Legislative Assembly for the last two months had been experiencing divisions and agitation among members of parliament intended to destabilize the assembly through impeachment against me. Hence I would request you to intervene in resolving this conflict for the interest of our party and the people of eastern equatorial state……” However, the meeting, scheduled for March 31st 2007 was boycotted by Governor Ojetuk and the associates, revealed Hon. Opi.

Hon. Ohisa Laissays, on behalf of my colleagues the MPs of Eastern Equatoria State Interim Legislative Assembly, I appeal to the President of Supreme Court of South Sudan to issue an injunction to the newly elected honorable Speaker and the Deputy Speaker not to take office and rather to allow the Legitimate Hons. Speaker Adelino Michael Opi and Marko Lokitoi Lokuta, Deputy Speaker, to resume their responsibilities until such time when the Supreme Court decides on the legality and constitutionality of the impeachment process, formation of the Adhoc committee and the election of a new Speaker and the Deputy Speaker as stipulate in the Conduct of Business 2006.

Article 40 of the Conduct of Business states “Matters not appearing shall not be discussed except those presented in writing to the Speaker and certified by him or her as of urgent and important nature and allowed by him or her to be presented before the Assembly”. However, Hon. Paul Okot Bara and associates failed to comply with this article with all its provisions, observed Ohisa Lais.

The Civilian coup on legitimate authority of state assembly was witnessed by Governor Ojetuk, his Advisors on Political affairs, Security affairs, the Leader of Government Business, Commissioner of police, Director of National Security, and SPLM State Secretary.

The urgent and important matter was signed by 29 MPs. Hon. Paul Okot Bara presented it on behalf of the Governor. The leaders being Hons. Offis Asada Otome, Paul Napuon Yonai, Martin Lopir, Paul Okot and Martin Odwar.The Deputy Speaker were witness to this. But the Governor did not allow the Leader of Government Business to present the urgent and important matter.

As I file this story, attempts to reach Governor Ojetuk for comments bear no fruits. Besides Governor Ojetuk preferred his son in-law to be the only one to cover and report about his activities while the entire employees of Information and Communications including state reporters were ordered to go for brick lying effective from February 12 this year.

As a senior journalist I was also ordered by Governor to get out of his state as from March 19th 2007 after conspiring with a Kenyan IT technician who is also an employee of the state who technically deleted all my documents from laptop computer.

Governor Ojetuk with his allies Mr. George Muras Lomoro, State Ministers of Finance and Economic Planning, Minister of Education, Mr. Francis Ben Ataba, advisor on administrative affairs Mr. Angelo Voga also alleged that I was illegally send by Dr. Samson Lukare Kwaje, Goss Minister of Information and Broadcasting to spy on their dubious deals in the state and hence refused to issue me with expulsion order in a written but kept on constantly threatening me not to report anything in the media otherwise I will face what they called a measurable death.

Eastern Equatoria State Interim Assembly has 48 sitting members of parliament and for it to constitute a quorum; there must be at least 36 members present in the assembly hall. The state has fairy represented all political parties in southern Sudan with SPLM having 29 members, CNP 3, SANU 3, SSDF 3 USAP2 2 USAP1 1 and UDSP 1 members respectively.