Two people were killed and three others injured in fighting between government soldiers and Imatong state bodyguards Thursday after South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, fired the governor of Imatong state, Nartisio Loluke Manir.
The president’s announcement was televised live. Deputy Governor Margaret Itto confirmed clashes broke out at the governor’s residence in the state capital, Torit, minutes after the broadcast.
Kiir dismissed Manir without explanation and said his replacement would be Tobiolo Alberio, the former Eastern Equatoria state assembly speaker.
Tensions remained high in the town Friday. Shops, public offices and schools were closed as the military patrolled the streets.
Itto called the violence an isolated incident, adding, “A change in the government is normal, it is inevitable and can be for good.”
A Torit resident who did not want to be identified for fear of government reprisal said she had not felt safe since the violence erupted close to her home.
“At night I was not happy and I did not sleep. My eyes were just open, especially after hearing that these people were shot,” she said. She asked out loud, “For how long are we going to be in this situation?”
Expression of sympathy
Itto offered her condolences to the families whose loved ones were killed in the fighting.
“I am very sorry the incident happened,” she said. “I am very sorry for the lives lost and those who were injured. We send our condolences to the families who are bereaved.”
Some Torit residents said Manir promoted peace across the state and that they did not understand why he was fired.
Others, like resident Paul Bob, said he was not surprised. “There are some challenges people are facing,” Bob said. “I have to admit it and look forward to how the new governor is going to play his role.”
Torit resident Pons Bismark urged the new governor to listen to the concerns of ordinary citizens.
“If you are new in the office, you should have to follow how the community is proceeding with the life, because if you come with some new idea in the office, then even the lower people at ground level will face problems,” he said.
Bismark, however, added quickly that all state residents should abide by the changes made by Kiir.