January 28, 2017 (JUBA) - Academic lecturers have indefinitely suspended lessons at the South Sudan’s main University of Juba in protest to arbitrary detention of two academics.
Academic staff president Philip Finish Apollo and natural resources lecture Zuher Sule were arrested on Thursday for holding a "secret meeting" after being suspended from the university by Vice Chancellor Prof. John Akech. The lecturers slammed the detention as illegal and demand their immediate release.
David Evoc, the deputy president for the academic staff, said lecturers have lived to their promise and halted lecturers. Evoc said the arrest of Finish and Sule is an "intimidation" to the lecturers demanding their legitimate rights of better wages and arrears as well better management at the university.
However, University of Juba Vice Chancellor Prof. Akech said the lecturers have acted outside the regulations and bureaucratic management of the institutional issues. He blamed the academic for misrepresenting "facts" to the public.
"Instead of dialoguing with (university) administration for the way forward, they (academic staff) met on 15 December and made unfounded allegations against the VC [Vice Chancellor] in regards to new policies including changing a number of academic regulations," said Akec in an email obtained by Sudan Tribune on Saturday.
He said the regulations were agreed by "appropriate bodies" governing the university and not unilaterally declared by VC as alleged. Akech said the academic staff abandoned university and ministry of education as channels to address their grievances and resorted to the media.
"These allegations were first published by Juba Monitor [newspaper] on 16 December 2016 and for that reason, five academic staffs were suspended for dissemination of false information about university administration decision-making," he added.
He said a committee is investigating the suspended staffs. Akech said the embattled staffs embarked on mobilising the students to trigger chaos in the university.
"They have been polarising the university community as well as waging media campaigns using disinformation in order to have their way," he added.
The VC, however, did not say if he authorised the arrest of the two lecturers. Akech did not elaborate on steps is taking to end the strike.
A university student said lecturers did not teach on Friday.
"It is an unfortunate situation that we just found ourselves in. The lecturers just began three weeks ago and the lecturers have been doing great job amidst the challenges of transport and low pay," first student identifying his first name as Sebit said on Saturday.