President Salva Kiir on Friday evening 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.
State-owned radio in Juba announced the decrees of removal and appointment of the new governor late evening on Friday.
Although the president did not provide any explanation for his decision, security sources in Wau told Radio Tamazuj earlier in the day on Friday that Governor Elias had not been on good terms with the SPLA division commander, Aseif Gatluak.
The governor reportedly criticized 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. The commander and the governor are said to have quarreled and the army leadership differed with the civil government over how to handle the security situation in the city.
The army decided to unilaterally declare restriction on the movement in town from 7 pm to 7 am. Governor Elia himself spoke to Radio Tamazuj about this on Thursday and was openly critical of the decision.
The main market in Wau town, Suk Jou, has not been fully functioning since yesterday. Traders are working from indoors because of the fear of rumours of possible attack on the town like happened in Raja last week. Warnings of a potential attack on Wau by armed opposition were circulated among some security branches as well, sources told Radio Tamazuj on Friday morning.
Meanwhile, multiple sources reported hearing gunfire on Friday evening in Wau.
Some residents have reportedly fled their homes. Over 100 civilians ran for protection to the United Nations Mission compound following serious outbursts of shooting in the town while others have fled out of the town.
A source in Wau town told Radio Tamazuj at around 11pm that an unknown number soldiers well armed with sticks, clubs and rifles marched to a Fertit area and went from house to house.
“At around 5 p.m. they started beating anyone who is not looking like Dinka at Nazareth area, Hai Kosti, Suk Jou Bazia Jedid, and so on there were gunshots and confusion who is fighting who… many civilians ran outside the town opposite direction of town center,” a source said.
“As I speak now, I don’t don’t know the number of casualties,” he added.
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.