AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - A power struggle around President Kiir?

Thursday, 13 October 2016 armed groups   massacres  

Juba (Agenzia Fides) - "Yesterday, October 12, was a day of high tension in Juba" local sources told Agenzia Fides from the capital of South Sudan. "The rumors spread via social media on the death of President Salva Kiir had thrown the population into a panic. Several people abandoned homes and shops, giving the opportunity to gangs of delinquents to loot them. Fortunately, in this case, the police managed to contain the looting".
Salva Kiir appeared on television to reassure the population. The government has tried to downplay the fact, attributing the rumors about the death of President precisely to these gangs of delinquents so that they would take advantage of the panic to carry out the looting. "It is a version of convenience" say our sources. "This incident is attributed to the power struggle going on around the Presidency. It is not about former Vice President Riek Machar who is on the run, far away from Juba, but people in Salva Kiir’s entourage. There are deep divisions within the governing coalition. Kiir’s collaborators, mostly militaries, want to take advantage of his poor health conditions to take power. It is a fact that the President, is not in good health".
"It should be stressed" - added the sources - the role of social media, that also in South Sudan have now become widespread, in propagating such lies. They are now used as media weapons to propagate hatred. Social media are war weapons used by both sides".
After the failures of the peace agreements that were to end the civil war that began in December 2013, Machar was forced to flee with his men. But the South Sudanese war is made up of several fronts. "The most recent and dangerous opened recently in the south in the State of Equatoria, where last week 200 people were killed for ethnic reasons" the sources said. "If in previous years the ethnic groups targeted were mainly those of the Nuer and Shillouk, the rebels in Equatoria, have targeted the Denka, the ethnicity of the President, as revenge for the atrocities committed by the army in their Country in 2015 and 2016 ".
"The risk of genocide is huge", the sources said. "The President perhaps prevented the outbreak of large-scale ethnic massacres by appearing on television. But what will happen in the future?", say our sources. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 13/10/2016)