Aweil North citizens protest relocation of Payam headquarters

Hundreds of citizens in Aweil North County in Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State have since last week staged protests after the local administration shut down the former Malual Center headquarters in Pamat and relocated the offices to a new location in Majak-Kar.

The local administration claims there are two reasons for making Majak-Kar the new Payam headquarters of Malual Center Payam; firstly that it was voted and built by the community as their headquarters about three years ago under the defunct 32 states and secondly that it was confirmed by national government when it turned all counties in the defunct 32 states into Payam headquarters.

The local communities however maintain that Pamat is among the oldest Payams in the system of the 10 states and should remain an independent Payam.

The disagreement, pitting one local chief and the local government administration on one side and the communities of Pamat on another, has led to ongoing tensions.

Several citizens who spoke to Radio Tamazuj said they rejected the government’s decision of shutting down the old Payam headquarters and transferring it to Malak-Kar and demanded an immediate unconditional reversal of the order.

Ken Barjok, the paramount chief of Malual Centre said, “I am indeed surprised because I don’t have information and it is out of order. I was at a funeral of one of our friends who passed on and when I came in the evening I heard the news that the headquarters was relocated to another place and I was astonished because the peace agreement allowed Pamat area as an old Payam under the 10 states.”

“I don’t understand, is there a new decree? I don’t understand because I am not convinced with the transfer, and if there is a transfer of the area, I should have been given information. I am responsible for the area. So they have to tell me so that I will understand whether there is a new decree or it was verbal. And if there is a new decree from the presidency, I would have heard,” Chief Barjok said.

He said he was in the dark and that there is tension and wondered who would take responsibility for the impasse.

“Is it the administrative officer who relocated the headquarters by himself alone? I don’t understand! As I talk to you now there is a lot of tension in the area. The relocation of the Payam headquarters is an unknown project. The inhabitants of the area don’t understand what it is,” Chief Barjok added. “That is why it created tension and people are wondering what will happen and whom to ask. The Payam headquarters was closed and at the same time it is the largest market and has an auction and there is everything, and resources are moved from the Payam headquarters to their area under the former 32 states.’’

Andrew Deng, a local government official in the area said he is not aware of the relocation, and requested more time to seek clarifications from the executive director.

“By Monday, the executive director evacuated the Payam to another location and I have been left in the old office and there is no information that I have been given. So, up to date, I am still asking. And when I ask people, nobody can answer me. I remained alone in the office of the Payam,” Deng said. “Meanwhile, there is no other advance information, the executive officers, like the directors didn’t sit for an update but when I called there were no updates about the matter. So, that is what happened in Malual Center.’’

Deng said that on several occasions he has called the executive director, he did not answer his phone, but the few times he has, he promised to call back and give him information, which has not happened.

Another resident, Dut Akok Anei, said the people of Malual Center carried out elections and voted to establish Majak-Kar as the County headquarters for Malual Center during the term of former governor Rizik Hassan. He said the problem came in because only one chief rejected the unanimous proposal.

“The people of Malual Center carried out elections during the time of governor Rizik on where to put the county headquarters and many voted for Majak-Kar to be headquarters of Malual Center. The people then gathered money and sold cows and built office buildings at Majak-Kar to be the headquarters for Malual Center County and people agreed,” according to Dut Akok. “This problem is with one person, one of the chiefs says he doesn’t want to go to Majak-Kar and that the people should come to Pamat. Many chiefs and all people agreed that Majak-Kar should be the headquarters of Malual Center County, this is one person who is opposing.’’

A Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State legislator, Angok Achuol Barjok, who represents the Malual Center area said he visited the area after he received the news and found it was already closed. He said the executive director told him that orders came from Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State’s secretary-general, Dominic Kang Deng.

The MP said that the move is baseless and illegal, calling upon the Aweil North County authorities to overturn the order.

“Of course after I heard the news, I moved from Aweil and came to the Payam headquarters and I saw the office was closed. I took photos and went home. I have been checking to see if it has reopened but it has not,” Achuol said. “When I asked the executive director, of course, he refused to received my call and at the same time I wrote him a text message, he replied to me saying that you are an area representative and you have right to talk to the media and said this order was passed by the secretary-general.’’

The lawmaker said he will not be convinced if the local authorities fail to provide legal documents from the state government’s secretary-general, saying that presidential directives maintain all administrative areas under 10 states, rather than the 32 states.

Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State secretary-general, Dominic Kang Deng, was not available for comment.

Source: Radio Tamazuj

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