The Dean of students at Dr. John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology is accused of confiscating the student’s ballot box and announced the cancellation of the students’ electoral process and the student union on Tuesday.
The Dean, Majok Kelei, appeared at the polling station at the University and confiscated the ballot box containing ballot papers terminating the electoral process and went to his office before announcing the suspension of the elections and dissolution of the Union.
In an interview with Sudan Tribune, Kelei said, “I took the ballot box because I am supposed to be the direct person supervising the elections.” He explained that the elections were halted because electoral regulations had not been followed.
According to Kelei, the list of the votes should have been taken from the registrars office and not a separate list of votes extracted elsewhere.
He cited the article 19.4 in the University act that gives him the power to dissolve the Union and stop the elections.
Kelei announced that the Union will be inoperative until August, when his office will form a new one.
“I will be working with the class coordinators until the Union is formed,” said Kelei.
The chairperson of the students’ electoral commission, Magok Alier Akuot, who is a fourth year student of law, accused the Dean of taking what he called “a baseless and ungrounded” decision by interfering with the students’ electoral processes.
Magot said that his office acted as per the student constitution, which says students are eligible for Union membership and the right to vote if they pay the fees and register with the electoral commission.
“I found out that almost all the students were not registered as members of the Union and I told the caretaker government and the Dean of students to do something, because they did not qualify to vote,” said Magot.
He said he raised a complaint with the Union’s caretaker government and the Dean of students. The Dean and the Union caretaker government agreed to give the students loans to register, in order to become full members before the polling day.
He said his office later on used the names of the registered members of the Union as votes in the electoral process.
Magot said the few students who did not register asked the Dean, after the registration was done, to be allowed to vote. The Dean dismissed the requests, according to Magot, and confiscated the ballot box.
Magot said the Dean acted outside his mandate.
“According to the University act, article 19.4, it doesn’t give the Dean the right to cancel or to dissolve the Union,” he said.
He praised his fellow students for remaining calm and orderly during the dispute.
The chairperson of the student caretaker government, Gai Chol Paul, also called for calm among the students. He said the Dean had acted outside his mandate.
Chol also called for the immediate repayment of the money wasted during the electoral process by the Union and the electoral commission, including the money spent by the contesting three candidates.
Among the three candidates that contested for the chair are Thon Kur Anyieth, Geu Samuel Deng and Gai Deng Peter.
The candidates condemned the Dean’s actions and called for a common agreement between the caretaker government of the students and the electoral commission.
Last year students wrote many petitions to the University complaining about the standard of education and facilities.
Students planned general meeting on Wednesday.