Home | News    Saturday 24 April 2010

Three people killed following Taban Deng declared win in Unity state

April 23, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Three people were killed and two others were wounded when protests were staged in the state capital Bentiu by supporters of Angelina Teny who has formally lost the race for governor in the oil-rich state.

Earlier today, the local Radio FM station in Bentiu announced that the local electoral committee declared the incumbent governor Taban Deng Gai as the winner in the tight and highly tense race. The National Elections Commission (NEC) expressed fury over what they saw as a premature move by the local electoral officials.

The NEC chairman Abel Alier said that this was not coordinated with the head office in Khartoum. He phoned Teny, wife of south Sudan’s vice president Riek Machar, to say that no final results have been released noting that the NEC is in the process of looking into the alleged inflating of figures in favor of Taban Deng by the electoral office in Bentiu before it could make the decision on who won the race.

But later in the day the NEC officially announced that Deng garnered 137,362 of the votes against 63,561 for Teny.

The chairman of the local electoral committee in Bentiu, Michael Mayul, on Friday rushed to announce Deng as the winner in a move seen by some as a way to try to avoid the verification of figures by the NEC team in Khartoum.

Preliminary results had shown that Angelina Teny got more than 68,000 votes while Taban Deng got over 44,000. The recently alleged inflated figures for Taban have more than tripled his previous votes counted by additional 56,000.

Teny had earlier warned that the electoral committee in Bentiu was under pressure by Deng to inflate his votes figures and announce him the winner.

A campaign spokesman for Teny, Yohanis Pouk, when asked about Deng’s victory, he said: "It was not a victory. Angelina Teny was leading by a difference of 24,000 votes and she was supposed to be announced the winner. So we were shocked when Taban Deng announced himself the winner on radio."

"When he [Deng] saw people coming out in big numbers, he gave the order to shoot. Two people died immediately and four are injured and in hospital," Pouk told Agence France Presse (AFP) by phone from Khartoum, adding that more people were wounded but that some ran away.

The decision by Teny, herself a senior member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to run as an independent against the official party candidate caused a stir within the former rebel movement and could further heighten tensions in the sensitive state.

Unity state, straddling the border between north and south Sudan, is one of the main oil-producing regions in a country whose crude output stands at around 480,000 barrels per day.

A referendum on southern independence is due to take place next year.