October 12, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government has dismissed as wild rumours reports that there was a conspiracy to take over power from President Salva Kiir by a group comprising politicians, military officers and tribal leaders in the capital, Juba.
- South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir attends the reopening of parliamentary sessions in Juba, South Sudan on June 11, 2012. (Photo Giulio Petrocco/AFP/GettyImages)
This comes after a wild rumour was successfully circulated in the capital, Juba, and beyond for the past two days that President Kiir was dying and that there was power struggle between politicians and senior army commanders over who should succeed him if he died.
Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth in response convened a news conference on Wednesday at which denied the rumours that there was an attempted coup being organized by former dissidents of Riek Machar, politicians from the Equatoria region and members of ethnic Murle tribe in Juba.
“All these are wild rumours which are usually created in order to cause havoc and inculcate fear into the people in Juba, and people are advised to leave Juba claiming that the situation will worsen in Juba this time round,” Lueth told reporters at a news conference also broadcast live by the state owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC).
“There is nothing like [that]. These are just creations of some people to cause confusion,” he said.
Lueth, who speaks as the official government spokesperson asserted that the situation was under control in Juba as well as the security situation across the country. He advised people not to panic.
He also dismissed reports that there was an ongoing killing in the capital in retaliation to the roadside ambushes in which passengers predominantly members of the Dinka, from which president Kiir hails, were targeted last week while traveling in a convoy of commercial vehicles which he said were stopped at gunpoint by unknown gunmen.
The minister also dismissed the rumour circulating the death of President Salva Kiir in Juba.
“Yesterday another mad person decided to put in the media that Salva Kiir is dead, it was also another problem, and I have been receiving calls all over the world that Salva Kiir is dead, and this is done here, this is unfortunate,” he explained.
The minister threatened to cut off internet services across the country, claiming that measures if taken, would not allow warmongers to continue to circulate rumours in order to cause insecurity in the country.
“Yesterday I was called and asked a clear question, is Salva Kiir dead or alive, this was a direct question, and I said no, this is a mere lie, there is nothing as such, Salva Kiir has not even been sick, he was in the office since morning up to this afternoon, he left the office at 4:30 pm, and at present he is in his house,” said Lueth, without elaborating on the source of the news and who called him to ask.
He continued that: “There is no killing of any body, and if there will be any killing, it will be by law, when we apprehend those culprits, we will take them to book, and they will answer.”
The source of the plot to remove from power president Salva Kiir and his death remains unclear. Observers say there were circulations on social media alleging the death of the president until his spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, came out with a release claiming to refute the allegation on the social media. He did not cite source of the allegation.
Critics and political analysts are keen to stress that the story was made by some government officials in order to deflect the public outcry about the rising insecurity on major high ways compounded by economic crisis.
“They make up their own stories and come out to deny them,” a political analyst who did not want to be named, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday when asked to comment on the two allegations.
“I am surprised the minister of information came out to convene a press conference when there was any allegation circulating anywhere whatsoever. I checked major news sources and I failed to get [it]. What I got was what the presidential press secretary Ateny Wek Ateny himself circulated in the press. He did not cite any source. He was himself the source of the statement denying the allegations and no more source of the allegation he was denying,” he challenged.
“Also the story of coup plot was another made story. The whole intention is to deflect the attention of the public from demanding protection from the government. They (government officials) feared that if they do not come out with such scary story, the public may go out to protest their ineptness in protecting the population,” he said.