Last week, the SPLM state chairman Joseph Monituel Wijang issued suspended his deputy, Samuel Lony Geng, a minister in the local government. The chairman stripped Samuel Lony of all his executive powers within the Unity state SPLM chapter, alleging he had violated the ruling party?s constitution by stirring divisions among its members.

In response to his dismissal, Samuel Lony called for a meeting of the State Liberation Council, the SPLM?s highest organ in Unity.

However, the full Liberation Council did not meet. Instead, Samuel Lony conferred with other cabinet ministers in the government. Under the banner of the Liberation Council, they issued resolutions confirming Samuel Lony as the state SPLM deputy chairperson and dissolving current SPLM state secretariat, removing Peter Dak Riak from his position as state party secretary.

Speaking with VOA by phone from Juba, state SPLM chairman Joseph Nguen Monytuel condemned the new resolutions as invalid and a violation of party rules.

He said Samuel Lony and his friends were destroying SPLM in the state through their power grabs.

?I suspended Samuel Lony of violating SPLM constitutions,? Monytuel said.  ?Whatever he does after being suspended is not valid.  This is a main forgery.  People have been misbehaving and not respecting the SPLM constitution, so they are using their executives power to destroy

SPLM within the state.  While this executive is supposed to be SPLM

executive, instead by using their (trying to) destroy the SPLM and create

more division among the SPLM members.?

The SPLM in Unity state has been divided for years. Unlike other states, where the governor usually also serves as the state party chairman, the State Liberation Council in 2008 elected Monituel as the chairman instead of Governor Taban Deng Gai.

During national elections in April last year, much of the SPLM party leadership, including Monituel, supported independent candidate Angeline Teny for the governorship. Despite this, the SPLM headquarters anointed Governor Taban Deng as the official candidate, reigniting divisions in the state SPLM.

Samuel Lony was a supporter of the incumbent governor, as were his friends in the cabinet.

Monytuel said that only he is allowed to call for a meeting of the State Liberation Council.

?Definitely by the SPLM constitution, the chairman of SPLM in the state, is the chairman of State Liberation Council and is the one power and mandate to call the State Liberation

Council,? he said. ?I cannot even give my power to my deputy to call for

The Liberation Council.  Never! Never!  So Samuel has been suspended

and all what he does are invalid and un-constitutional.?

Last week, the state radio station refused to broadcast the statement by the SPLM state chairman dismissing Samuel Lony as his deputy.

But on April 1, the state radio read on air the resolutions confirming Samuel Lony as deputy chairman and announcing the formation of a new SPLM state secretariat, despite the fact this document lacked the official SPLM seal.

It was just one more example of the power play going on here between the SPLM loyal to the governor, and those who have been critical of his leadership in the past.