January 09, 2014 (JUBA) – A peaceful protest organised mid-week by South Sudan Civil Society Alliance (SSCSA) advocating for an end to the ongoing violence, saw some protestors turn the heat on Hilde Johnson, head of the United Nations Mission in the country (UNMISS).
- South Sudanese people take part in a peace march organised by civil society groups in the capital Juba, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 (AP/Ali Ngethi)
“Hilde [Johnson] is the destroyer of our country”, one placard from a demonstrator read, while another said, “UNMISS’ Hilde of meddling in the affairs of the country”.
“Hilde should leave", read another placard held by an activist.
Members of the alliance, despite all these anti-UN slogans, managed to hand a petition denouncing war with calls for peaceful resolution of the conflict in the country, to Parliament.
South Sudan army is battling soldiers who defected in support of former vice president Riek Machar. Fighting started three weeks ago in Juba between presidential guards, which President Salva Kiir claimed was a coup organized by Machar, an accusation the latter denied.
Deng Athuai, the chairperson of the alliance told members of Parliament that their march was a show of solidarity with government and calls for peaceful co-existence in the country.
“The approaches of resolving the current crisis militarily are not welcome by civil society,” he said.
“[We call for] peaceful resolution of the political frictions without returning to [all out] war,” the chairperson added.
It still remains unclear, however, why some of the protestors opted to go against the UN mission head, despite the commendable role it played in protecting civilian during the nearly one-month conflict. Tens of thousands of civilians remains holed up at UN premises for fear of being killed in the violence, which started after disputes arose among presidential guards in Juba mid-December last year.