South Su­dan un­rest rises amid Kiir’s death ru­mours

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

THE UN has warned of in­creas­ing vi­o­lence in South Su­dan as the gov­ern­ment was forced to pub­licly dis­miss ru­mours of Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir’s death to quell ris­ing ten­sions.

The UN said it was be­ing de­nied ac­cess to parts of the country where fight­ing has erupted and con­demned “in no un­cer­tain terms th­ese acts of vi­o­lence and at­tacks against non-com­bat­ant civil­ians”.

“The United Na­tions Mis­sion in South Su­dan [UN­MISS] is ex­tremely con­cerned over in­creased re­ports of vi­o­lence and armed con­flict in var­i­ous parts of the country in the last few weeks,” a state­ment said on Wed­nes­day, not­ing fight­ing in north­ern Unity State and south­ern Equa­to­rias.

UN­MISS also said it had been de­nied ac­cess to an area where 21 civil­ians were re­port­edly killed in an am­bush on a road be­tween the cap­i­tal Juba and south­ern city of Yei over the weekend.

Also on Wed­nes­day, In­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter Michael Makuei held a press con­fer­ence to deny ru­mours of Kiir’s death that had cir­cu­lated in re­cent days, trig­ger­ing fear and ten­sion in Juba.

“This is a mere lie, there is noth­ing as such. Salva Kiir has not even been sick,” said Makuei, slam­ming “wild ru­mours” he said aimed to di­vide the peo­ple of South Su­dan.

Later in the day Kiir, 65, was driven about town in the back of a pick-up to prove he was alive.

In re­cent days res­i­dents of Juba had re­ported a higher-than-usual pres­ence of sol­diers on the streets, as the ru­mours co­in­cided with mount­ing con­cerns over a rise in vi­o­lence.

“We are scared of the sit­u­a­tion. You can­not know what is ex­actly hap­pen­ing,” said Moses Modi, a res­i­dent of Juba who was stay­ing in his house over se­cu­rity fears.

An­other Juba res­i­dent, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, re­ported that some schools had sent pupils back home.

South Su­dan, which gained in­de­pen­dence in July 2011, de­scended into war just two-and-a-half years later when Kiir in De­cem­ber 2013 ac­cused his then­deputy Riek Machar of plot­ting a coup.

Nu­mer­ous at­tempts to reach a sus­tain­able truce failed, and in a ma­jor set­back to peace ef­forts, fierce clashes erupted in Juba on July 8 this year be­tween Kiir’s guards and troops loyal to Machar.

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has ex­pressed con­cern since the July clashes, which pushed the num­ber of refugees past the one mil­lion mark, ac­cord­ing to UNHCR.

In a fur­ther blow to peace hopes, Machar last month urged “a pop­u­lar armed re­sis­tance” against his ri­val’s gov­ern­ment.

Machar, who fled to Khar­toum, Su­dan in July, on Wed­nes­day left for South Africa for med­i­cal tests.

An in­flu­en­tial group of South Su­danese politi­cians known as the “former de­tainees”— af­ter their ar­rest when war broke out in 2013— added their voices to the many ris­ing con­cerns.

They said they were “greatly dis­turbed by the re­cent in­crease of war and vi­o­lent con­flict all over again; its ever deep­en­ing in­ten­sity and level of bru­tal­ity; an ap­par­ently all-per­va­sive and creep­ing sense of re­sent­ment and hate”.

“The country is on the edge of a precipice,” the group said. — Al Jazeera — PRE­TO­RIA — Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande says he has the #FeesMustFall stu­dent move­ment to thank for high­light­ing the issue of the “miss­ing mid­dle”.

Speak­ing at the commission of in­quiry into fees yes­ter­day Nz­i­mande said the miss­ing mid­dle should ac­tu­ally be cat­e­gorised as poor stu­dents.

“Some of the stu­dents we cat­e­gorise as the miss­ing mid­dle they are poor stu­dents... maybe thanks to FeesMustFall for ac­tu­ally high­light­ing this issue and it’s ur­gency.”

Nz­i­mande an­nounced last month that univer­sity and col­lege in­creases would be up to the in­sti­tu­tions, but would be capped at 8 per­cent.

He also an­nounced that stu­dents on the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme would not bear the brunt of the in­crease, as it would be sub­sidised by the gov­ern­ment.

They would also sub­sidise the in­creases for stu­dents who fell into the “miss­ing mid­dle”, where house­holds earned up to R600 000.

Fol­low­ing his an­nounce­ment, protests flared up at ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions around the country, with stu­dents de­mand­ing free ed­u­ca­tion

An­swer­ing ques­tions from the commission yes­ter­day on why the miss­ing mid­dle had been largely ig­nored by gov­ern­ment, Nz­i­mande said it was due to the de­mands of poor stu­dents, and gov­ern­ment re­sources.

“It had to do with the de­mand and what gov­ern­ment saw as a pri­or­ity. Gov­ern­ment thought that we need to dras­ti­cally ex­pand ac­cess to the poor and also be­cause of in­ad­e­quate re­sources.”

He added that an­other chal­lenge for gov­ern­ment was the large num­ber of poor stu­dents who qual­i­fied for NSFAS. He said gov­ern­ment was also fac­ing chal­lenges in fund­ing poor stu­dents.

Nz­i­mande said an un­in­tended con­se­quence for the 0 per­cent in­crease, which re­sulted in gov­ern­ment pay­ing for univer­sity fee in­creases, was that it took money “ear­marked for Masters and PhD schol­ar­ships to ac­tu­ally pro­duce the lec­tures that we need”. — Sapa

More than one mil­lion peo­ple have been forced to flee their homes across South Su­dan. Reuters

Salva Kiir

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