July 3, 2014 (RUMBEK) – Lakes state authorities are on high alert ahead of a visit by South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, who is expected to arrive in the capital, Rumbek, over the weekend.
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir is due to visit Lakes state capital Rumbek over the weekend to officially open a new hospital (Photo: Reuters)
The visit comes amid growing calls for the state’s military caretaker governor, Maj- Gen Matur Chut Dhuol, to be removed over his imposition of harsh security measures and failure to quell ongoing tribal violence in the state.
Dhuol, who was appointed in January 2012 after Kiir removed elected governor Chol Tong Mayay, is also accused of inciting violence within local communities through hate speeches and attempting to undermine intellectuals and traditional authorities.
Lakes state communities have also been angered by Dhuol’s decision to suspend student scholarships provided under a government fund established by the former governor.
On Wednesday, Dhuol instructed the ministers of physical infrastructure and education to take charge of cleaning the town and airport in preparation for Kiir’s visit – his second to the capital since winning elections in 2010.
However, school students and trade unions leaders reacted angrily to being ordered to carry out general cleaning duties in the town.
“I am forced to do the work I have never chosen to do,” said student Moses Deng after being instructed to clean freedom square.
“My classmates and I were order[ed] to respect the order or otherwise we would be dismissed from school. This is very immoral and I am total[ly] disappointed in president Salva Kiir,” he added.
According to Deng, students and teachers who opposed Dhuol’s authority were routinely dismissed from their schools without justification.
“Really we are suffering, and this suffering is caused by [our] current governor,” said Deng.
“We ask [community] elders and leaders to remove [the] governor and [the] president is not responding,” he added.
Lakes state’s minister for physical infrastructure, Abraham Mayen Kuc, who instructed ministry employees to clean up city streets leading from the airport to freedom square, also appeared to be unhappy with his assigned task, after he was reportedly overheard saying he was tired of receiving “negative orders”.
As part of preparations for the presidential visit roads were levelled with stones and trees in freedom square were painted white.
President Kiir is visiting Rumbek to officially open a Chinese-constructed hospital.
The planning and the construction of the hospital, located on the Rumbek- Yirol road, took more than three years to complete.
The naming of the hospital has recently been the subject of a disagreement between the state government and local communities.
While the government said it had opted to name the new healthcare facility Mayardit Women’s Hospital, local community leaders are advocating to name the hospital after Samuel Aru Bol, a prominent politician in the then Southern Sudan.
Coincidentally, Bol’s mausoleum lies within the vicinity of the new hospital.