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New advisors in W. Bahr el-Ghazal make peace and reconciliation top priority

October 7, 2012 (JUBA) - The newly appointed state advisors and county Commissioners in South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal State on Sunday pledged their “full support” to the Governor Rizik Zakaria Hassan and resolved to make peace and reconciliation efforts a top priority.

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The officials have also identified roads, health, education and agriculture as key areas that require giving immediate attention and called on the central government in Juba to review its financial allocation. According to the contested 2008 Sudanese Census Western Bahr el Ghazal State was South Sudan’s least populous state.

“Most of our people live in rural areas where basic health services are hardly available. When one goes for [a] visit, the first thing asked always is when will the government bring [the] town to the rural [areas] so that they avoid moving to town. The other questions which have always been asked are those relating to education and roads," Brigadier General Wol Dhel Thiep told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

Thiep was among seven state advisors appointed in the first week of October by gubernatorial order, making him an advisor for Decentralisation and Rural Transformation Affairs. He pledged his support to Governor Zakaria, explaining that he would do his best to create and promote conducive ground between different levels of government in the state and the local authorities at county levels.

“I will try my level best to initiate [a] better working relationship between communities and the state government. I will make sure our people open up and support development plans of the state," said Thiep, stressing that he looks forward to working in collaboration with his county Members of Parliament as well as the state ministries on how to approach the different challenges in the area.

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Governor Rizik Zakaria Hassan on October 1, issued decrees and two state orders relieving and appointing new county commissioners and state advisors. Raja and Jur River County commissioners were removed and appointed Mayor for Wau Municipality with deputy.

Wau County and Headquarters commissioners retained their positions. The gubernatorial order seen by Sudan Tribune appointed Michael Gaeba Ukel as mayor of Wau Municipality with Kamil Wana Orac as deputy. The order relieved Livio Gelego Bahara from the position of state secretary general and appointed him as an advisor for essential service affairs.

The same order appointed Effesio Kon Uguak, a former deputy governor as Advisor for Peace and Reconciliation. Anthony Charles Gberende as an advisor for political Affairs while Miskin Musa Abdelmukaram as an advisor for boundaries and Inter-communal Relations Affairs. Monica Lewis Mawien retained advisory position for gender and minors (children) Affairs and Colonel Rizik Dominic Samuel as advisor for Security Affairs.

Marodama James Benjamin retained position of commissioner for headquarters and John Peter Miskin as Wau County commissioner. John Arop Madut became Jur River commissioner with Hassan Jallab Khadam becoming new Raja County commissioner.

Governor Hassan ordered the commissioners of Wau and Jur River to relocate their headquarters to Bagara and Nyinakok localities at the outskirt of Wau town in order for newly appointed mayor municipality to assume full control of the town.

John Arop Madut, Jur River County commissioner in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune on Saturday identified illiteracy as the major challenge facing citizens in his area that he would focus on persuading sensitizing citizens to send children to school emphasizing that primary education is free in South Sudan.

Madut said that statistics have indicated that his county is lagging behind the rest of South Sudan, which has literacy rates of only 27%.

“My focus will be sensitization of our people to send children to school. Our people are far behind other counties. Most of our people have not gone to school. Jur River is one of the counties with many challenges but my focus will be education”, said commissioner Madut.

He called on political leaders and the citizens to make peace and reconciliation a top priority so that the state administration gives attention to delivery of basic services. He pointed out that inadequate infrastructure and qualified teachers are the key challenges in improving education in the county.

“There are a lot of challenges which need to give immediate attention. We must show support to our governor. We must show support to our ministers. We must show supports to our members of parliament and we must show support to army. We must work together to bring peace”, he said.