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Abiem East community disowns chairperson, names new leader

March 19, 2016 (JUBA) - Abiem Community leadership in the defunct Northern Bahr el Ghazal state of the newly created Aweil East state has announced removal and replacement of the chairperson of the community, Sultan Abdel Bagi Ayii Akol from his position.

Aweil politicians at community meeting in Juba on 1 Nov. 2012 (ST)

The community leadership, according to the statement which Sudan Tribune has received, cited long time absence from the area as the reason for removal.

Phillip Gong Awier was named as the immediate replacement. Awier was the immediate deputy of the leadership elected in 2015 under Sultan Abdel Bagi Ayii Akol, a former presidential advisor on peace, border and traditional affairs.

The dismissed Akol is a prominent and controversial community figure. He was one of the militia commanders who fought alongside the Sudanese armed forces against the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) during the second civil war between the north and south which took more than two decades and ended with the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) in January 2005.

Akol later became part of the other armed forces under the overall command of late General Paulino Matip Nhial, who signed a 2006 Juba declaration. The deal allowed the forces under Nhial, including forces associated with Akol, to be integrated into the SPLA.

In 2010, Akol displayed dissatisfaction with the performance of president Salva Kiir after accusing him of failing to listen to him and acted on his advice on matters related to the affairs of the country.

Akol then left Juba for Khartoum where he joined ranks and file with several armed dissident groups, including General Peter Gatdet Yakah and late General George Athor Deng, who had taken up arms against the government.

The group accused Kiir of allegedly having rigged elections, displayed dictatorial tendencies and failed to effectively control with efficiency to manage the affairs of the country thereby leading to rampant corruption and insecurity.

Akol was later convinced by his community elders and returned to Juba where he met with President Kiir but was not given any assignment.

In 2015, he was selected as the community leader of his Abiem East community, replacing late General Alfred Deng Aluk. He thereafter travelled to Khartoum for medical treatment. In Khartoum, however, one of his closest sons to him, Hussein, again started releasing statements indicative of dissatisfaction with the system under President Kiir.

The statements have therefore received mixed reactions and some people started interpreting them to mean another rebellion in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, though there has not been formal declaration.

While this was not cited as the reasons for change of community leadership, observers say this may have been one of the reasons which prompted Akol’s dismissal from the leadership in order to dissociate other members from his activities and pre-empt any suspicious links to him.

(ST)