S. Sudan's top court judge resigns citing political interference

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-15 00:16:55|Editor: Zhou Xin
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JUBA, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- A senior judge from South Sudan's top court resigned on Tuesday, citing political interference that has rendered the court's work a "mockery."

Supreme Court justice Kukurlopita Marino Pitia, in his resignation letter to President Salva Kiir and also copied to the Chief Justice Chan Reec Madut, condemned the political interference in the judiciary.

"Over the years, despite all our efforts individually and collectively, the independence of the judiciary in South Sudan has become a mockery and pasquinade," he said in Juba.

"The judiciary lacks institutional independence, and the independence of judges and justices in performing their judicial function is interfered with, and hence the guarantee of the independence of the judiciary by the constitution and the law is a fallacy."

This came after the judges in early September ended their three-month strike since May after demanding better salaries and the sacking of the Chief Justice Madut, allegedly a close confidant of the president.

Some justices were suspended from the judiciary by President Kiir in the wake of the strike that left the bench short of numbers to deal with the huge case backlog.

"The war in South Sudan can not be used as an excuse to interfere and silence the judiciary. If anything, judiciary must tall during war periods where so many rights are in jeopardy and to protect those rights," Pitia added.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny when contacted for comment could neither deny nor confirm knowledge of Pitia's resignation.

"Matters of judges are principled and not for the media. The judiciary is independent," he said.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to split within the SPLA, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.