Salva Kiir Wants State of Emergency in Western Equatoria State

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A dispute between Zanda and Balanda in Tambura County escalated into a conflict, resulting in the looting of properties, losing lives, and the displacement of residents. The situation raised concerns, and Ateny Wek Ateny, the president’s spokesperson, stated that Salva Kiir wanted to declare a state of emergency in Western Equatoria to curb the raging violence and manage the situation.

Opposition groups in the state, however, were opposed to Salva Kiir’s idea. In an interview with Radio Miraya of the United Nations, Ateny Wek Ateny stated, “President Salva Kiir is serious with the situation in Western Equatoria. His desire to declare the state of emergency shows his seriousness, but the (signatory) opposition (groups) opposed the proposal,” after religious and traditional leaders in the area called for the intervention of the authorities. 

Former opposition groups rejected the president’s idea of a state of emergency, arguing that other laws already in place can maintain law and order in the affected areas. Furthermore, emergency powers can be abused because laws allow authorities to detain people without a warrant, seize property and search any premises, suspend rules, and issue orders that the court does not question.

The region’s conflicts affected the security situation along the Juba Nimule road, which hampered the importation of goods from the neighboring country, Uganda. 

The government disagreed with the opposition and wanted to declare an emergency with such results since the other structured options did not appear to be working. They said they had no plans to use the emergency measures against opposition political leaders.

Salva Kiir once declared an emergency in the flooded areas in October 2019, covering 30 counties in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, and Equatoria regions. This measure aided a million people estimated to have been affected by the heavy floods in South Sudan.

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