News / Africa

S. Sudan President Orders State Governors Back to Work

A young woman runs through the street as gunshots ring out a few streets over, in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in South Sudan.
A young woman runs through the street as gunshots ring out a few streets over, in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in South Sudan.
Charlton Doki
— South Sudan President Salva Kiir has ordered the governors of three states that have been heavily impacted by nearly six weeks of fighting to resume their duties, as African mediators say negotiators for the two sides in South Sudan's conflict are poised to sign a ceasefire agreement.

In a presidential order read out on state television late Wednesday, Kiir told Governors Simon Kun Puoch of Upper Nile, Joseph Ngwen of Unity and John Koang Nyuon of Jonglei state to return to their provincial capitals and assess the extent of damages from fighting to the towns'  infrastructures.

“The government is planning for reconstruction and if it is to plan for reconstruction then an assessment has to be made," Kiir's spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said, adding that the governors have been told to submit their reports within a month.

Bor and Bentiu, the capitals of Jonglei and Unity states, respectively, were virtually wiped off the map during battles for control of the towns between pro- and anti-government forces, and fighting was raging at the beginning of this week in Malakal, capital of Upper Nile state, according to U.N. officials.

Both government and U.N. officials have said infrastructure and government offices were destroyed in the three towns.

Even though government forces recently recaptured the three state capitals, anti-government forces still control some counties in the three states, two of which -- Unity and Upper Nile -- produce all of South Sudan's key source of revenue, oil.

But Ateny said that because security has been restored in the provincial capitals,  the governors could return.

"The capitals of the three states are immensely secured and the surroundings are actually secured so even if there is still a presence of some pockets of rebels around the counties or payams, that will not actually prevent them from going to the respective seats in the capitals of their states,” he said.

None of the governors was available for comment and it was unclear if the government expected the governors' assessment reports to cover only the capital or also outlying areas.

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