April 24, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudanese security service officials have allegedly advised President Salva Kiir to remove and replace the country’s Chief Justice, Chan Reec Madut, warning that a delay to could result in the situation being exploited by political dissidents and sections of frustrated populations to go on a mass demonstration.
“The issue of chief justice is a recurring matter, and we have done our best to resolve the differences between him and his colleagues, including acting on his wish to remove his deputy but it seems this is now becoming a national security matter to be ignored,” high level South Sudanese security officer told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
“We have now advised the president to replace him and appoint a new person so that we see which others issue that will arise again from the lawyers and judges”, he added.
According to the official, president Kiir and the chief justice were expected to meet on Monday evening to discuss the way forward.
He, however, said he expects the South Sudanese leader to ask Madut to tender his resignation other than waiting to be dismissed.
“This will be an informal meeting at the residence of the president. The president was briefed and knows issues which judges and lawyers raised against chief justice”, further said the officer.
Sudan Tribune understands that judges, advocates as well as lawyers have started an open-ended strike as per initial statements.
Last week, judges and lawyers declared an open-ended strike, demanded the resignation of the chief justice and wage increment.
“The general assembly of justices and judges voted unanimously to enter into an open strike until the following demands are fulfilled; the honourable Chief Justice Chan Reech Madut must resign, provision of a car for justices and judges for transportation, provision of stationery and creation for a conducive working environment. Creation of courtrooms to each and every judge,” said Geri Legge, a Justice of the Court of Appeal after the general assembly meeting.
The senior judicial officials accused the chief justice of allegedly failing to follow up on promises made last year to increase wages and improve working conditions. In South Sudan, justices and judges receive monthly salaries between SSP 8,000 and SSP 12,000.
Judges and justices are among highly paid government employees but the depreciation of South Sudanese pound against the United States dollars means their wages are now less than $50 per month.
A chief justice is appointed by the president and it is not clear if he will act to resolve the judicial crisis. Last year, a similar strike was called off within a week after the government promised to address the conditions set forth, but the pledges were reportedly never met.