October 12, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese President Salva Kiir took to the street on Wednesday in show of strength following rumours of ill health.
Kiir, whose health situation is unknown, was rumoured to have died on Tuesday, prompting his spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny to deny the allegation.
On Wednesday, however, Kiir emerged from the State House, surrounded by his political alies, including army chief of staff Gen. Paul Malong Awan, National Security Minister Gen. Obote Marmur, Raja Governor Rizik Hussan Zechariah and information minister Michael Makuei Lueth. President Kiir travelled his longest ever distance in Juba since he was elevated to the helm of South Sudan’s leadership 11 years ago.
“I think seeing is believing and for you to see me when I am said to have been died is the believing that I am alive,” he said, speaking to reporters after moving through Kator, Gudele, KonyoKonyo and Malakiya suburbs of Juba.
Rumors spread on Tuesday on social media that Kiir health deteriorated and succumbed to unknown disease. He said this prompted him to speak publicly.
“Of course nobody can come to the media to deny his or her own death but this is what you have now subjected me to. I am alive and well. I want to assure my people of South Sudan that what they heard last night and this morning where all fabrications by the enemies of peace," he told chanting supporters accompanying him.
The movement, which was shown on state-owned TV and radio, brought business to halt and interrupted traffic in the city.
On the recent killings of civilians on highway, Kiir called for calm and forgiveness.
"I want everybody to remain calm. As for the parents and the relatives of the victims who lost their lives in this tragic incidents, I want to calm them that let them remain calm and nobody should take law into his or her their hands to go and revenge, it is not time for revenging, it is time for forgiveness even if we get those who are killed people. We will still forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing,” he said.
He criticised the phrase "MTN", which is a term allegedly being used to identify ethnic Dinka on passenger vehicles. The Dinkas, according to the 2008 housing and population census, are South Sudan’s largest tribe.
He said perpetuators of targeted killings would be hunted downed and apprehended.
The information minister Michael Makuei Lueth earlier referred to the attackers of civilians vehicles as "terrorists" and called upon the region and international community to design at armed SPLM In Oppositin faction of former first Vice President Riek Machar as a threat to regional peace and security.
President Kiir, in his address, did not call the armed opposition forces terrorists.