South Sudanese government on Wednesday deployed heavily armed security forces, comprising of police and regular soldiers, to guard key government institutions in the capital, Juba, following president Salva Kiir’s decision to dissolve the government.
Public and privately-owned radio stations, as well as daily newspapers have reported on calls from senior government officials and high ranking military officers, appealing for calm as the president forms a new cabinet.
International organisations and foreign diplomats have also received a briefing, stressing the normality of the situation, as well as an assurance that adequate security will be maintained throughout the country.
However, the deployment of heavily armed government troops, assisted by plainclothes security personnel and police forces has created uncertainty and anxiety in the city.
Security checks are also being conducted along roads leading to key institutions, while others have been blocked due to the heavy deployment of security personnel particularly around government ministries and the national parliament.
In a statement, army spokesman Colonel Philip Aguer denied the deployment was linked to the president’s decision, saying the military build-up was part of routine work to protect key government institutions in the city.
“There have been rumours spreading around after the presidential decrees were announced that there is insecurity in Juba and some parts of the country. This is not true. There is no insecurity. Everything is okay. The security situation is normal and fine. There is no security situation anywhere as a result of the decrees issued by the president”, Aguer said on Wednesday.
Charles Manyang, an under-secretary at the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation, also told journalists at the news conference that the dissolution of the cabinet and removal of vice-president Riek Machar was part of “normal changes that happens anywhere in the world”.
Barnaba Marial Benjamin, who was removed as minister of information and broadcasting services on Tuesday, also urged citizens to continue their routines as normal while they wait for the president to form a new cabinet.
“We are asking our citizens, please do your duty and go to work. Give the president a chance to form his government. He has already empowered the technocrats to see the day-to-day running of the administration”, Marial said in a broadcast by the widely heard UN-sponsored Radio Miraya on Wednesday.
Rumours have been circulating on the street about who may return to the new cabinet.
There are suggestions that Marial might either return to the information docket or be moved to the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation.
Marial, who is widely admired for his role in the conduct of the referendum and the brief conflict with Sudan over ownership of Panthou in April 2012, enjoys a relatively good working relationship with the president and his aides.
As part of a major cabinet shake-up, Kiir dissolved the entire council comprising of 29 national ministers and their deputies. He also removed 17 brigadier generals from active service in the police force and placing them non-active service, which seen as a polite way of retiring armed officers in a country where pension commission has not yet been established.
As well as removing Machar, Kiir also suspended Pagan Amum, the secretary-general of the ruling the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
The order relieving Machar and suspending Amum cited article 104 (2) in the Transitional Constitution of the new state for the vice-president and article 25 (1) (g) and (K) of the 2008 Constitution of the ruling party, as the basis for removal from their functions for the case of the secretary-general.
Read together with article 23 (2) of the 2006 interim basic rules and regulations, the order formed a five member committee under the leader of the national legislative assembly speaker, James Wani Igga.
Other members of the investigation committee include deputy national legislative assembly speaker Daniel Awet Akot as its deputy.
Jonglei state governor Kuol Manyang Juuk and chairperson of the members’ affairs committee in the national assembly, Mark Nyipuoc Obang, have been appointed as members, while Peter Bashir Gbandi has been named as secretary of the committee.
According to the terms of reference, copies of which were obtained by Sudan Tribune, the committee is tasked with investigating Amum for allegedly mismanaging the affairs of the SPLM, both administratively and politically. It will also investigate Amum for exhibiting insubordination to the leadership of the ruling party by using the public media to discredit the party and its leadership.
Amum will also stand before the committee for utterances seen as inciting tribal sentiments in the country over his criticisms of a presidential order that lifted the immunity of cabinet affairs minister Deng Alor Kuol and finance and economic planning minister Kosti Manibe Ngai, both of whom were accused of making financial requests and approving about $8 million for the purchase fire safety equipment without the president’s knowledge.
The secretary-general will also answer allegations of deliberately creating divisions aimed at undermining party unity, showing disrespect to the leadership and impeding the proper functioning of party structures.
Amum has not yet reacted to his suspension, although yesterday evening a short comment was published in his Facebook page saying “dictatorship in the making”.