Internet services in South Sudan were disrupted on Monday and security forces deployed on the streets of Juba as most residents stayed indoors inside after activists under the aegis of People’s Coalition for Civil Action called for protests against President Salva Kiir’s government.
Kiir was scheduled to address lawmakers at parliament’s opening session on Monday morning. The alliance of activist groups reiterated their call on Sunday for public rallies demanding he resigns. However, there was no sign on Monday of major street gatherings in the capital Juba.
Police said the activists had not sought permission to protest, and therefore any large gathering would be unlawful.
“We deployed the forces at least to keep order in case of any problem. Those forces are in the streets for your safety,” police spokesperson Daniel Justin Boulogne said.
Abraham Awolic, a member of the group, said it notified the police by letter of the planned protests even though such notification is not required.
However, in a televised remark to an elite unit on Sunday, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Lt Gen. James Pui Yak said authorities would not “harm anybody” to break up demonstrations.
“They are just going to advise people … to go on with their normal lives, we don’t want any disruption.”
Deputy Information Minister Baba Medan could not comment immediately on the reported shutdown, as he was busy attending the opening of parliament.
Activist Jame David Kolok, whose Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance is one of the groups that called for the demonstration, explained that the internet shutdown was a sign “the authorities are panicking.”
The activists accuse Kiir’s government of corruption and failing to protect the population or provide basic services.
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