Internet disrupted in South Sudan after call for protests

President Kiir of South Sudan


Internet services in South Sudan were disrupted on Monday and security forces patrolled the streets after activists called for protests against President Salva Kiir’s government.

A coalition of activist groups reiterated their call on Sunday for rallies demanding Kiir’s resignation.

However, there was no sign by mid-afternoon of big street gatherings in the capital, Juba, as it was more quiet than usual as residents sheltered inside.

The activists accuse Kiir’s government of corruption and failing to protect the population or provide basic services.

The government has repeatedly denied allegations from rights and advocacy groups of abuses and corruption.

Kiir, while addressing lawmakers as he opened a new session of parliament termed those behind the calls as people “who wish us ill” adding that “improving the wellbeing of our people is our priority.’’

The president said parliament should urgently approve the budget, adding that lawmakers should also help to facilitate the process towards an election due at the end of a transitional period to stave off instability.

Police spokesperson Daniel Justin Boulogne said the activists had not sought permission to protest and therefore any large demonstration would be illegal.

“We deployed the forces at least to keep order in case of any problem. Those forces are in the streets for your safety.’’

Deputy Information Minister Baba Medan told Reuters he could not comment on the reported shutdown as he was busy attending the opening of parliament. MTN did not immediately respond to a comment request.

An industry source with direct knowledge of the matter said the outage was due to a directive by the government and that services were expected to be restored by 6 p.m. local time.

Activist Jame David Kolok, whose Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance is one of the groups that called for the demonstration, told Reuters that the internet shutdown was a sign “the authorities are panicking”.