South Sudan

Kiir sacks governor as fighting grips Wau

spla soldier with a weapon

It started in Busere area where armed men ambushed and gunned down to SPLA soldiers on Friday in Wau State spreading panic of an impending attack on the town.

Minister of Information Maka Bushra Mohamed had on Thursday told Radio Tamazuj that the governor met with the heads of different security organs, including the commanding officers of the SPLA forces in and around Wau.

Minister Maka praised the government forces for treating the incident as an isolated case and not a targeted attack organized by a known group of people within the town.

The minister also said in a separate case, a driver of the Wau town mayor exchanged fire with an SPLA officer killing the soldier.

Kiir sacks governor

On Friday, President Salva Kiir abruptly dismissed Governor Elias Waya of Wau State, whom he had appointed just six months ago, and replaced him with Andrea Mayar Achok, following differences between the outgoing governor and SPLA leadership in Wau.

The new governor Andrea Mayar is the former parliament speaker of Western Bahr al Ghazal and an ethnic Jur Chol.

He was impeached in a controversial vote in February last year and he was a critic of then Governor Rizig Zacharia Hassan, who is now Lol State governor.

Elias Waya, the ousted governor, is reported to be in Juba at present, having been summoned there prior to his removal about two days ago.

State-owned radio in Juba announced the decrees of removal and appointment of the new governor without giving any explanation.

It is said Governor Elias had not been on good terms with the SPLA division commander, Aseif Gatluak after reportedly criticising Aseif at a meeting in the presence of the sector commander, Jok Riak, for allegedly embezzling the salaries of soldiers, which in turn caused them to turn to robbery and burglaries at night as a way of making a living.

In the night, soldiers well-armed with sticks, clubs and rifles marched to a Fertit area and went from house to house beating people.

Over 100 civilians ran for protection to the United Nations Mission compound following serious outbursts of shooting in the town while others fled out of the town.

Fighting breaks out

On Saturday, fighting erupted in Wau town following sporadic violence over the past two days as well as more organized efforts at forced displacement that began last night.

According to Radio Tamazuj, the fighting involved SPLA and an unnamed armed group mainly in the south of the town (Busari entrance) and on Kalbaria side as well as some other areas. Heavy guns have been used including tanks.

A former state minister said there were gunshots and people running to UN.

“There are clashes ongoing in Wau and people are running to the PoC,” she said.

Opposition groups have been operating in Wau County and on the outskirts of the city have clashed with SPLA earlier this year, but the city itself has never yet come under serious attack.

Last week, the town of Raja to the west was briefly overrun by an unidentified rebel group.

Shops of traders in Souk Jou were looted. A Sudanese trader was killed in the street and his motorcycle stolen, he said.

Some other civilians have been killed as well, including a young man yesterday evening and a three-year-old girl and a woman this morning, a source said.

Some civilians say that SPLA soldiers robbed them as they were going to UNMISS for protection.

According to a UN staff in Wau, more than 1000 civilians sought protection at the UNMISS gate.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says that it is concerned for the safety of the civilian population as well as the immediate humanitarian consequences.

“How many times will South Sudanese civilians be forced to flee battle zones, knowing that if they don’t their lives will be in danger?” said Gregor Mueller, ICRC’s Deputy Head of Delegation for South Sudan.

New governor calls for calm

On Sunday, Andrea Mayar Achor, the newly appointed governor of Wau State, appealed for calm after the army declared a unilateral restriction on movement within the town before clashing with an armed men attempting to take control of the town.

The identity of the group with which the army fought yesterday also remains unclear.

The local command of the Sudan People’s Liberation army has accused a group of loyal to politicians allied to the First Vice President Riek Machar as being behind the attack.

The governor said it was a time when people were concerned about the fate of civilians amid reports that a lot of people within the town have been killed or fled, leaving Wau a ghost town since Friday evening.

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