8 July 2011 - As a prelude to Southern Sudanese independence, Northern Bahr El-Ghazal State Governor Gen. Paul Malong Awan announced today that all political prisoners had been released through a decree issued last week.
"We released all prisoners who have been under our prisons due to different reasons in order to promote unity, peace and harmony among our citizens," Governor Awan said. "We do not want to see anyone (in) prison in the free nation that we will have on 9 July."
According to the UNMIS Human Rights unit, the state government had detained nine political prisoners since 24 March for allegedly planning foiled demonstrations the previous day.
But the rights unit has now established that those detainees were released on 23rd of June. In addition, UN Police in the area confirmed on 8 July that there were no female or juvenile detainees in the town's prisons.
Governor Malong noted that Southern Sudanese people had paid a heavy price to live in peace and dignity, expressing hope for a brighter future.
"We have been struggling for freedom, justice and equality for centuries and finally achieved it through painful and long struggles," the governor said. "Now we will have a free nation on the 9 July for the first time ... that everybody can rely upon."
He added that ensuring a prosperous and reliable nation would be his administration's main target in the coming period.
"We have a new nation ... which requires a continuing struggle and common objectives from all its citizens in the time to come," Mr. Awan said. "We will continue to work as one nation and people to promote peace, stability and economic progress in our new nation."
Northern Bahr El-Ghazal is reportedly one of three states in the region that has been affected by severe food insecurity over a prolonged period, which his administration was working to reverse, the governor said.
"Currently we are working with our people and partners to modernize and promote the agricultural sector in the near future," the governor said. "We hope that we will manage to attain our food security programmes, given the vast and fertile lands we ... have in the state."