World Bulletin / News Desk
South Sudan has denied claims that it was conspiring to assassinate the governor of Central Equatoria State, Clement Wani Konga, because of his staunch support for a federalist political system.
"Allegations that the president is conspiring… to assassinate the Equatoria governor are devoid of truth and repugnant to our cultures and norms," presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny told a press briefing on Tuesday.
"The president is taken aback by these irresponsible allegations against him and the noble people of Greater Equatoria," he added.
South Sudan has recently been awash in debate over proposals to adopt a federal system of governance as a means of solving the country's ongoing political conflict.
Top on the list of politicians supporting the proposal is Konga, who has called for the establishment of three federal regions: Greater Equatoria, Greater Bahr el Ghazal, and Greater Upper Nile.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, for his part, has said it was not the right time for the country to adopt such a system.
"The issue of federalism is not a crime and shall never constitute any crime in future under his government. And so he [Kiir] cannot kill or intimidate anyone for demanding a federalist system of governance," Ateny said.
"Owing to the fact that South Sudan is now in need of peace and stability, the president saw the issue of federalism as a second priority; but he is not against it," he added.
Konga left Juba for Uganda over the weekend amid reports that he had fled the country.
The government spokesman acknowledged Konga's departure, but dismissed reports that he was intending to defect to the rebels.
"Gen. Konga is in contact with the president and has nothing to let him defect to the rebels," Ateny said. "It is also baseless for the rebels to fabricate that Gen. Clement Wani Konga has defected to them."
The spokesman went on to describe the rumors as rebel "propaganda."
"The office of the president has continued to encounter the war of rumors the rebels are now launching," Ateny said.
He described a Facebook page recently created by rebel leader Riek Machar – dubbed "Nyamilepedia" – as "the devil of all evils of misinformation against the government."
"This Facebook account, by name of one Nymeil Elijah, is the creator of the rumors of conspiracy to assassinate the governors of three states of Equatoria and the allegation of the Central Equatoria State governor's rebellion," Ateny said.
The spokesman also denied reports that a nighttime curfew had been imposed in capital Juba.
"The same source has also alleged the re-imposition of the night curfew in Juba. As a result, there emerged the spirit of panic and fear among our citizens," he said.
He added that the allegation had prompted some shop owners to close their shops, while some citizens had left the capital for villages.
"There has been no re-imposition of the night curfew in Juba and the whole of South Sudan," he asserted.
Ateny went on to say that his government did not intend to disarm presidential guards from the Equatoria region.
"There were allegations that… Presidential Guard units of Equatoria origin were disarmed in a manner akin to the allegation that the December 15, 2013's attempted coup d'état was triggered by the disarmament of members of the Nuer ethnic group," he said.
"We would like to condemn such allegations in the strongest terms possible, while we urge the general public to remain focused and devoid of rumor-mongering," Ateny added.
South Sudan fell into chaos last December when Kiir alleged that his sacked vice-president, Riek Machar, was plotting to overthrow his government.
Subsequent months saw South Sudan's army wage a ferocious war against Machar loyalists, who nevertheless managed to capture several key cities.
Hundreds of thousands of people have since been displaced by the violence, which has in turn led to a major humanitarian crisis.Last Mod: 02 Temmuz 2014, 10:08