Here are the last moments of late Minister, Peter Gatkuoth

Here are the last moments of late Minister, Peter Gatkuoth
Late Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Peter Gatkuoth passed on on Sunday, June 19 while receiving treatment in Egypt. [Courtesy]

News of the untimely demise of Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation, Peter Manawa Gatkuoth, threw the country into mourning.

Before his death on Sunday morning in Cairo, Egypt, Peter Gatkuoth was also the spokesman of the main armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), led by First Vice President Dr Riek Machar.

From reliable sources, we can authoritatively report that on Wednesday, June 15 2022, Manawa, the minister arrived in his office for the start of official working hours.

On that day, the minister and his environmental counterpart, Josephine Napwon were to file a report on the dredging initiative of the Naam River in Unity State that was going to be presented to the council of ministers on Friday.

According to multiple sources, the minister complained of chest pain at 3:30 PM and he was rushed to Freedom Hospital at Nimra Talata neighbourhood at 4:00 PM local time and was then transferred to Baraka hospital and was discharged relatively stable.

“The chest pain continued throughout the night and in the morning there was a growing concern not only among the family but within the circle of the minister,” an official who was close to the fallen minister said.

On Thursday, June 16, there was a growing concern over the minister’s ill health, and two suggestions came up. The minister was to either be evacuated for intensive medical attention in Cairo, Egypt, or to Nairobi, Kenya. According to a source, the minister requested to be taken to Cairo.

At 3:00 PM, Minister Manawa was taken to the airport on Friday and the plane departed at 4:00 PM. He was accompanied by his wife Firial Gatkuoth and a private cameraman at the minister’s office.

In Cairo

When taken to the hospital in Cairo, the doctor reportedly suggested an operation saying that there was a nerve-blocking blood flow in the heart and in the process.

That was on Saturday morning. On Sunday, exactly at 5:00AM, the minister was pronounced dead after an apparent surgery failure.

Manawa had a busy schedule on the days leading to his death. On his head lay squarely the sticky matter of dredging Naam River. The was a growing controversy around the project that even some government officials seemed to be in the dark regarding the scope of the work and the agreement between South Sudan and Egypt.

He was preparing a report that he would jointly with the national Minister of Environment, Hon Josephine Napwon present to the cabinet on Friday.

The late Manawa, his acting Undersecretary, and four other Director Generals worked on the report until he began complaining of ‘chest pain’.

On Friday during the press briefing to the journalists at the Cabinet Affairs office, the Minister for Information, Michael Makuei, told the press that Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation was supposed to have a presentation on the dredging and his plans for his ministry and specifically on the exercise.  

“Unfortunately the minister is sick, and he might have been taken today because he has a very serious infection so that was adjourned until the minister comes,” he said. But the minister never made to see his plans fulfilled. 

“It is unfortunate that we have lost a very young and energetic committed South Sudanese who dedicated his life to save the people of South Sudan,” Makuei told The City Review yesterday as he sent his condolences. 

The First Vice President Dr Riek Machar sent his condolence to the nation and the family of the fallen minister.

‘‘On behalf of SPLM/SPLA-IO and South Sudanese people, I am conveying our deep condolences to his family, the members of the Revitalised Government of National Unity and all members of the SPLM/SPLA-IO,’’ he stated in a press release.

He made a glowing tribute to Manawa, who had shown leadership traits from his college days.

‘‘Manawa was a strong student leader during his university days as well as the leader in the youth movement in Sudan. He was a committed nationalist. He was a strong believer in reform in the Republic of South Sudan. He was the SPLM-IO Chairman of the Committee for Information and Public Relations and member of SPLM-IO Political Bureau,’’ he said.