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Kiir imposes state of emergency to contain greater Jonglei conflict

Author: Okot Emmanuel | Published: Thursday, August 13, 2020

Some Jonglei youth in possession of illegal arms | Credit | File photo

The restive state of Jonglei and Pibor Administrative Area have been placed under a three-month state of emergency beginning last night.

President Salva Kiir issued the declaration because of the unending circle of violence and the unfolding humanitarian situation.

A state of emergency is a situation of national danger or disaster in which a government suspends normal constitutional procedures in order to regain control.

Experts say through the emergency, the government can impose a lockdown on the affected areas, and institute forceful disarmament of those with illegal arms.

The government is often expected to do all it can for the safety and protection of the citizens.

Armed youth from Jonglei and Pibor Administrative Area have engaged in attacks and counter-attacks since the beginning of 2020.

The inter-communal clashes have raged for months.

The fighting is between armed youth from rival communities over cattle, child abduction and revenge killings.

Recent clashes in Akobo and Bor counties in Jonglei and Gumuruk County of Pibor Administrative Area have resulted in the deaths and displacement of civilians.

In a decree read out on the state television SSBC last evening, President Kiir stated that the decree shall last for three months due to the ongoing conflict in Jonglei State and Pibor administrative area and the dire humanitarian situation there.

The spikes of violence in greater Jonglei prompted President Kiir in June to form an investigation committee led by Vice President Dr. James Wani Igga to address the root causes of the problems.

Dr. Wani Igga’s 13-member high-level committee is to conduct meetings with elders from Jonglei and Pibor Administrative Area to contain the security situation there.

The committee is expected to also identify the root causes of inter-communal violence and organize a peace conference between communities in the areas affected.

According to the President, the committee is tasked with bringing on board all stakeholders in an attempt to bring about a lasting peace and stability in the two areas.

However, it is not clear why the president declared the state of emergency before the Igga committee submitted its findings.

Recently, activists and some religious leaders questioned the ability of the high-level committees set up by the President to investigate into security incidents in greater Jonglei and Juba.

South Sudanese have also criticized the Presidency for perpetually forming committees “just to kill” matters of national significance that requires long-term solutions.

In July 2017, Kiir declared a state of emergency in Gogrial, some parts of Tonj, Wau and Aweil East states for three months.

President Salva Kiir also declared a three-month state of emergency in December 2017 in Gok, Eastern Lakes and Western lakes states, where inter-communal clashes was intensifying.

But there had been continued inter-communal clashes, cattle raiding, child abduction and revenge killings in those areas.

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