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Gogrial governor threatens to kill legislator over media criticism.

March 13, 2016 (JUBA) - Abraham Gum Makuac, governor of Gogrial state, home to the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, has threatened to kill a vocal legislator in parliament who has fallen out with him after the appointment of his cabinet and speaker of parliament.

Women from a cattle camp walk near Gogrial (Photo Tim Freccia/Enough Project)

Governor Gum, according to former state minister of information, Ariech Mayar Ariech, called him (Ariech) at exactly 9:04am on Saturday and warned him to stop talking about him and his government in the media and other public forums, saying he should not be blamed if he acts.

"I just want to tell you to stop writing and speaking to the media. If there are issues which you would like to raise with me and my administration do that through administrative channels. Come to me in my office. We will talk. This is what I want to tell you. Don't talk in the media," Ariech quoted governor Gum as saying during a telephone call conversation.

"I have been telling you to stop. Now I am telling you because I don't want to be blamed later that I did not talk to you, if you are not looking for me," Ariech told Sudan Tribune , saying he had recorded the phone conversation for the purpose of evidence should the governor try to deny that he had threatened him.

The cause of the reaction, according to Ariech, was because he and several others in the state have reacted to the arrest of one of youth leaders in the state, Lual Aterdit.

It remains unclear why Aterdit was arrested. Police sources say they were instructed by the governor and Awan Chan county commissioner to arrest the youth leader because he mobilized the community to not turn out for reception on arrival to Akon, the administrative headquarters of the new country.

Other charges, according to the letter of arrest at Kuacjok police station run by criminal investigation department (CID), include criticism of the governor in public forums, engaged in a fist fight with other people in Akon, home village to President Salva Kiir before running away to Kuacjok for hiding.

The people in the area, according to sources quoting the commissioner, were still looking for him and have opened a court case again Aterdit and therefore was one of the reasons for the arrest.

Aterdit denied the charges and accused the governor and commissioner of fabricating the cause for his arrest. He wondered why he would go to court with the legal counsellor for the state government if the cause was connected to an alleged local fight in which none is reported to have been hurt and no one had opened the case.

Ariech said no amount of threats from the governor and his supporters would stop him from speaking out, as the legislator representing people in parliament against abuse of power and resources due to intimidation done to people from whom authority to run the affairs of the area emanates.

"I am an elected member of parliament and the role of the legislature is very clear. The parliament does oversight functions of the activities of the executive. It is not just about making laws. The members are therefore the representatives of the people and we cannot keep quiet when people we represent in parliament are being abused. They are being intimidated and arrested for speaking out, which is their constitutional right. The constitution permits freedom of speech and expression," said Ariech.

The legislator called for unconditional and immediate release of the youth leader whom he said has been illegally arrested on directives of the governor and commissioner.

"As a member of parliament, I condemned this act in the strongest term possible and call for unconditional and immediate release of comrade William Lual Aterdit," he said.

No statement was released from either the office of the governor or the office of police commissioner in the state to provide explanation behind the arrest.

Deputy governor, Akot Abiem, is reported to have distanced himself from what transpired, claiming he was not aware of the threats and cause of the arrest.

Officials say governor Gum was not the choice of the people of Gogrial when he was appointed by President Salva Kiir after splitting the country into 28 states, thereby dividing former Warrap state into three separate states comprising Twic, Tonj and Gogrial.

Gum was appointed on the recommendation of Tonj state governor, Akec Tong Aleu, who replaced his predecessor, Nyandeng Malek as the caretaker governor of Warrap after she was removed from the office in August 2015.

Malek was removed from the office as a result of more than five years political campaign against her administration.

Ariech was one of her fiercest and long-time critics. He briefly became a state minister of information but was removed before spending less than six months in office.

Many officials, including President Salva Kiir, preferred he and several other colleagues, who were appointed and did not spend long time in office, should have been given time to allow the public to assess their performances.


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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:Mar 14, 2016
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