UN cautions personnel in South Sudan over mass protests

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August 23, 2021 (JUBA) – The United Nations in South Sudan (UNMISS) has warned its personnel to stay away from areas expected to witness a large turn-out of protestors in the coming days.

South Sudanese people take to the streets as part of a peace march organised by civil society groups in the capital, Juba, on 8 January 2014 (Photo AP/Ali Ngethi)

The UN, in an advisory, said its personnel should immediately report all security incidents and unusual activities as it monitors the overall security situation in the lead up to the planned events and issue advisories as deemed appropriate.

The advisory urged UN personnel to be vigilant and to avoid large gatherings.

“This is to advise all UN personnel that a group called the Peoples Coalition for Civil Action has indicated that starting Monday 30th August 2021, they will embark on a series of peaceful protests, civil disobedience, and sit-ins throughout South Sudan until the demands of the people are met,” party reads the UN advisory extended to Sudan Tribune on Monday.

“While there is no confirmation that the event will take place and if it does, the nature and number of participants and the Host Government response to the planned activities cannot be ascertained. As a precautionary measure, UN personnel are advised to restrict their movements to only essentials and duty-related on the day the event is scheduled to commence and continue to follow reports of any related developments on subsequent days”, it added.

The warning comes amid reports of the anticipated deployment of troops to violently crackdown on any form of protests organised by civil society activists.

The anticipated protest is envisioned to be one of the first of its kind ever since South Sudan gained its independence from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011.

But organizers of the protests, whose leaders are either in hiding or in detention, have urged the authorities to uphold and protect citizens’ fundamental rights.

Among the protesters’ demands is for authorities to release the former Northern Bahr el Ghazal state governor, Kuel Aguer Kuel amidst calls for President Salva Kiir and the country’s First Vice President Riek Machar to step down from power.

The two leaders are accused of allegedly causing divisions in the East African nation.

Similar protests, according to organisers, are expected in the country’s biggest towns, despite reports and an order banning gatherings of five or more people.

The presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny said such protests amount to inciting violence.

“People with different intentions and agendas may sneak into the march to harm the protesters and the government would be blamed for it. This is what we do not want. The people who are advocating for this protest should have waited for implementation of the revitalized peace agreement because they were part of it”, he told RBC TV Monday.

Ateny said he doubts peaceful protests can occur in country where civilians possess arms.

Garang Diing, a law student, said community leader are closely following the situation in the country and have warned their family members and relatives to exercise to watch out for “bad guys” should they decided to join the protest.

“Bad guys are everywhere and this is our concern. The government should try its best to ensure demonstrators are protected”, he told Sudan Tribune Monday.

For his part, Acuil Deng, a South Sudanese refugee at a camp in Uganda, said he doubts if the security forces will allow peaceful protests to take place in the country.

In a joint communique issued on August 20, 2021, representatives of “non-violent civil and political organizations” resolved to mobilize citizens to demand resignation of President Kiir and Machar.

(ST)

Source: sudantribune