February 19, 2014 (TORIT) - The speaker of the Eastern Equatoria state legislative assembly, Emmanuel Ocholimoi, died on Tuesday 18 February in Torit hospital.
While addressing mourners on Wednesday at a requiem mass at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Torit, Eastern Equatoria state’s Governor Louis Lobong said Ocholimoi was a statesman who deserved a state burial and great recognition.
Governor Lobong said that but because of the meager resources available to the government at this time in the state, Ocholimoi’s burial had been hurried.
Eastern Equatoria, the governor told the congregation, has lost a courageous and out spoken statesmen who was always transparent and never broke any rule or regulation of the SPLM - South Sudan’s ruling party.
A delegation from the South Sudanese capital, Juba, also attended the funeral, including Remy Oler a deputy speaker of the Council of States, the upper house of South Sudan’s parliament.
Oler said that his delegation was there to to celebrate Ocholimoi’s life. He described the deceased as a liberator and a true statesmen and patriot.
The speaker of the parliament in neighbouring Central Equatoria, Naphtali Hassan Gale, said he was deeply moved by the untimely death of his Eastern Equatoria counterpart, especially considering the current crisis in the country.
For the last two months defectors South Sudan have been blighted by conflict between the South Sudanese army and rebels led by the former Vice President has led to around 10,000 deaths and displaced over 700,000 people.
The departure of speaker Ocholimoi is a huge loss to Equatoria and its government at all levels, Naphtali added, as South Sudan needs his leadership at this critical time for the young nation.
Naphtali said that Central Equatoria state’s parliamentary business has been adjourned in respect for Ocholimoi as several of its members had joined him in traveling to Torit for he funeral.
Eastern Equatoria state’s spokesperson, Clement Laku, said they have declared three days of holiday to mourn the state speaker and urged that South Sudan’s flag to be lowered at half-mast for the whole of that period.
Businesses came to a standstill in Torit, while government and NGO offices and schools closed down as civil servants, pupils, students and others moved to pay tribute to the deceased.
Martin Adelino Iya who was doctor treating Ocholimoi said he died from high blood pressure at the state hospital in Torit at around 5am on Tuesday.
Hundreds of mourners turned up at the speaker’s house in Torit, some wailing at the top of their voices, to express grief. Others sang songs of sorrow mixed with tears.
The late state speaker had served two terms in office.