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South Sudan Politician Shuts Down State Assembly

Unity state speaker Maguek Gai Majak, shown here addressing a crowd during celebrations of South Sudan's independence, has ordered a three-month recess of the state legislature. (VOA/Bonifacio Taban)
The speaker of the Unity state assembly in South Sudan, Maguek Gai Majak, has refused to step down after a vote of no-confidence in him for alleged corruption and malpractice, and instead moved to close the assembly for a three-month recess.

Majak announced the recess in the presence of 14 lawmakers who have stood by him and who argue that last week’s vote of no-confidence in the speaker was unconstitutional.

“Any motion, whether it is a private motion or public motion, or you want to impeach the chairperson… you have to follow the conduct of business and the constitution of Unity state,” said John Kaway, chair of the state assembly’s Information Committee.

Twenty-eight of Unity state’s 48 lawmakers voted last week to oust Majak, outlining a list of gripes with him, including that he passed a policy to reduce civil servant salaries without putting it to a vote; and that he allegedly diverted funds earmarked for the state assembly to his own businesses.

The announcement by Majak of the recess added to controversy over his leadership, with his opponents saying the speaker’s move to shut down the assembly was illegal.

“It is the violation of all the laws that we have in the nation,” said lawmaker Peter Dak Khan.

But Khan and the other MPs who voted against the speaker are worried that their efforts to get him to leave office him will go nowhere, because Majak allegedly has the backing of the state executive.

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