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Sudan Tribune

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Disturbances, political crisis continue in capital of Sudan’s Lakes state

September 29, 2008 (RUMBEK) — Protests and a political crisis continue in Rumbek, the capital of Lakes State in southern Sudan, according to government officials and anonymous sources. A group of legislators who have sought to impeach the state finance minister is currently at odds with the state executive and his supporters in the assembly.

The impeached speaker of the legislative assembly, Isaiah Machinkok, who led efforts against the allegedly corrupt finance minister, said by phone that he will not quit his office because he was removed by the governor and his cabinet and not by proper procedures in the assembly.

Machinkok and his deputy, Marik Nanga Marik, were ousted from office last week by a coalition of the Lakes state acting representative for parliamentary affairs, Jeremiah Telar Arok, and 23 other members, constituting a majority of MPs.

GOVERNOR’S REMARKS PROMPT PROTEST

Machinkok rejected this move Wednesday and said that the other MPs had been bribed by the finance minister. But on Friday Governor Awet Akot announced that the vote of no confidence against the speaker had been the right move, and that a new speaker and deputy had in fact already been sworn in on Tuesday, the day following the vote.

“The swearing in was held at 6:35 p.m.,” he said.

The governor’s statement prompted protests that day, which continued Monday when students and communities of Lakes state blocked roads linking the executive offices and the house of the assembly. Protesters said that they want a government of the people.

“The new speaker with his deputy must go [back] to Awet’s company,” said a student, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The parliament was closed on Monday and Awan Guol Riak, the minister of local government and law enforcement, ordered the commissioner of police to confiscate Machinkok’s and his deputy’s keys to the house of the state legislative assembly, said a source.

OFFICIAL ASKS FOR CALM

Furthermore, Riak urged communities not to destroy everything within the town. “Let us avoid killing and let peace come into us for the future of Lakes state,” he said. According to Riak, the assembly is temporarily closed until the security situation is improved.

“Nobody, neither the new speaker with his deputy nor the old speaker with his deputy are to open offices today in the assembly,” he said, putting all assembly premises under police control. Closing of the assembly is not according to the law but is to help the situation from people who might protest against the government, he added.

The minister of finance, Philip Marol Mading was impeached by the Lakes State Legislative Assembly in 2007 following a parliamentary probe on the mismanagement of public funds. However, the minister was backed by Governor Akot and the president of the government of Southern Sudan overlooked the parliament’s decision.

Machinkok said, however, that he is still speaker for Lakes state community, elected in 2005 after the Lakes government was established. Current Speaker Bullian Kot Beny and his deputy, Gordon Maper Manyiel, will remain honorary representatives of Governor Awet Akot, and not representatives for the people, he said.

(ST)