YPSILANTI, MI JULY 3, 2014 – There has been wide spread rumor that President Salva Kiir and Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Paul Malong attempted to assassinate the governor of Central Equatoria, Clement Wani Kanga and further planned to assassinate the governor of Western Equatoria, Joseph Bengasi Bakasoro and the governor of Eastern Equatoria Louis Lobong Lojore.
ESSCA-USA has since confirmed with office of the Governor Clement Konga and several other sources that the there was no assassination attempt on the governor’s life. The office of the Governor corroborated the story that the Governor was on private visit to Kampala over the weekend and returned to back to Juba on 1st of July. At this point we believe these rumors to be false.
While the rumor is false, it plays into the fears ginned up by the current crises. It is important to note that this is happening in a charged political environment and against the backdrop of President Kiir criticizing and asking Equatorians to stop calling for Federalism after all three Equatorian Governors have endorsed Federalism in recent weeks. Moreover it has been reported last week that the security apparatus issued gag orders to the news media stop publishing information about Federalism.
We take all such rumors seriously irrespective of their veracity given the current political climate in South Sudan. Uncontained or mismanaged, such a rumor regrettably has a real potential to aggravate an already precarious state of affairs. The assassination of any Equatorian governor or leader would add an undesirable dimension to the current conflict and further complicate the current conflict.
The South Sudanese people are entitled to discuss and consider Federalism as an alternative form of government. Equatorians at large have called for Federalism during the Equatoria Conference held in 2011. Equatorians have been consistent in calling for Federalism over the years. The recent calls by the Equatorian governors should not be misconstrued as a endorsement of the SPLM-in-Opposition position or a recent change is position. Rather it must be viewed and recognized as the consistent demand of Equatorians and a growing number of South Sudanese in general.
Factoring this rumor into the larger political context, we urge the government and SPLM-in-Opposition to allay the fears and concerns of South Sudanese and deescalate the tense and charge political environment by immediately returning to the negotiating table in Addis Ababa and engaging in a genuine effort to reach peace.