By James Gatdet Dak
October 8, 2009 (JUBA) – Wild rumors circulated in Juba on Thursday that the President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) and Chairperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Salva Kiir Mayardit, had died.
The rumors said one of the guards shot him, as others said that his convoy was under fire from unknown assailants, while on his way to Juba Airport on the way to an official visit to the Ugandan capital Kampala.
President Kiir left Juba for Kampala on Thursday morning on an invitation by the Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
The rumors, suspected to have originated from Khartoum, quickly spread that President Salva Kiir died in the morning hours of Thursday, which almost caused panic in the semi-autonomous region’s capital.
However, the Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan and Deputy Chairperson of the SPLM, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, refuted the wild rumor.
Machar said the false rumor was a work of the enemies of peace in the country.
He said sources of such rumors must be investigated.
The Vice President, who saw off President Kiir to Kampala at Juba International Airport at 10:50AM, said he also talked to him on the phone at 3:00PM in the afternoon after his safe arrival to the Ugandan capital.
During an urgent press conference he held in the Sudanese capital, the SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum dismissed the rumors and reassured that Salva Kiir is conducting his duties normally affirming he left Juba for Kampala where he arrived safely.
While the official news agency SUNA published a short news item saying that Kiir held talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on bilateral relations and means of promoting joint cooperation to serve the interests of the Sudanese and Ugandan peoples.
The official spokesperson and minister of Information and Broadcasting, Paul Mayom Akech, also dismissed the rumors, which he said were counter-productive and designed to create instability in the South. "These are wishes of prophets of doom," he said.
The SPLM leadership has been holding an emergence closed door meeting in Juba for the last four days since Monday and discussed a number of pressing national issues such as democratic transformation, disputed census results, general elections and Southern Sudan referendum among others.