March 15, 2014 –The South Sudan government on Friday intercepted thousands of protestors in the Western Bahr el Ghazal state capital of Wau, who were intending to storm the UN base.
- THousands of students took to the streets in Western Bahr el Ghazal state capital Wau on 14 March 2014 calling on the UN to leave the country (ST)
The protest is the second such demonstration organised against the UN in the state in the past week.
The latest protest came after Wau university students in South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal on Wednesday issued officials from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) a 72-hour ultimatum to vacate the region or risk facing a demonstration in protest against their presence.
State correspondent James Deng Dimo admitted protesters had intended to destroy UN assets, but were intercepted by government forces about 25 metres from the base.
The protestors have warned that they will burn down all UNMISS base camps if they fail to leave the country.
“This is our stand. We demand our government to dismiss Hilde Johnson from the country - we are already a government elected by the people, and therefore UNMISS please refrain from supporting rebel [forces],” said one protester.
UNMISS has faced intense criticism in recent days after last week’s seizure of ammunitions from a UN convoy in Lakes state en route to Unity state.
The UN maintains that the weapons belong to the Ghanian peacekeeping contingent in the country and were mistakenly transported by road rather than by air as is UN policy after a labelling error.
However, the weapons seizure has raised suspicions the UN was attempting to secretly smuggle weapons to rebel troops opposed to the central government.
Several demonstrations have taken place in various parts of the new nation following the incident, with calls for UN mission head Hilde Johnson to stand down.
The students’ petition calling for UNMISS to vacate the state was officially handed to the state governor Rizik Zachariah Hassan earlier this week in the presence of Winnie Babihuga, the world body’s representative in Western Bahr el Ghazal.
Babihuga told thousands of protesters at an earlier demonstration that UNMISS continued to work “hand in hand with the South Sudan government in restoring peace and stability”.
She has pledged to forward the students’ petition to its headquarters in New York.
Speaking to protesters at Friday’s demonstration, governor Hassan called on UNMISS to stop interfering in the country’s internal politics, saying its current policies were further fuelling the conflict.
“Kiir did not came on power by force, he was legitimately elected by the people of South Sudan, as [were] the governors under Kiir. We do not want anybody trying to take power by force,” he said.