September 18, 2013 (WAU) - South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has begun a three day tour of Bahr el Ghazal region, attending an occasion where 290 South Sudanese ex-combatants graduated under the national Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program.
- South Sudan president Salva Kiir (Reuters)
The event took place in the newly created Mapel payam [district], a strategic area in Jur River county.
This pilot phase of the DDR program, officials say, is first to be completed under the new DDR program in South Sudan.
“The pilot phase is a key component of the new South Sudan DDR program and represents an important step in the process of deepening peace and stability in South Sudan", said Hilde F. Johnson, head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan.
Ex-combatants, at the end of the three-month course, are expected to return to their states and communities to participate in nation-building processes.
The intensive residential vocational training covered life-skills in agriculture, masonry, plumbing, mechanics and construction as well as classes in English literacy and numeracy.
Kiir was meanwhile accompanied by the top level military officers and government officials, including the national army chief of general staff, James Hoth Mai, oil minister Stephen Dhieu Dau, electricity, dams, water resources and irrigation minister, Jemma Nunu Kumba, health minister, Riek Gai Kok and the reinstated presidential advisor on legal affairs, Telar Riing Deng.
The president was received at Wau airport by the host governor, Rizik Zachariah Hassan and his Northern Bahr el Ghazal counterpart, Paul Malong Awan.
Kiir is expected to hold a public address at Wau stadium on Thursday morning before leaving for his home village of Akon in Gogrial West County, Warrap State, where he is due to hold another public address.
Preparations for his reception by the Warrap state governor, Nyandeng Malek Deliec have reportedly been finalised.
It remains unclear whether the South Sudan leader would extend the visit to Northern Bahr el Ghazal, where flood have displaced thousands of people or go via Lakes state on his way back to the capital, Juba.