The South Sudanese army [SPLA] attached little importance to calls by civil society groups to withdraw troops currently deployed in the streets of the nation, instilling fear and movement in the town.
The army started deploying troops over the weekend, posting tanks, heavy artillery weapons including howitzer to key and strategic places in town. The areas which experienced huge deployment include ministries area, parliament, the presidential palace, markets and Mausoleum of late John Garang de Mabior, founder of the governing Sudan People's Liberation Movement [SPLM].
The purpose of the deployment remains unclear. There has not been a statement from the office of the army spokesman. The police spokesman and the presidential press secretary have given conflicting comments.
Police spokesman, Brigadier General Daniel Justin, described the development as a temporary measure to protecting properties while presidential spokesman claimed it was a normal deployment to strengthen security in the town. Both officials did not provide elaborate comments.
The development received mixed reactions from the population, with members of the civil society calling for withdrawal in order to allow free movement of the civilians in the town.
"There is no way you can bring out military tanks and weapons to the streets when there is an economic crisis. The government must withdraw all the forces on the streets of Juba because the civilians are not armed and they have nothing to do with the army," Akuoc Ajang, head of the civil society alliance.
Ajang called on authorities to allow civilians to move freely so that they could have the opportunity to freely come together and raise their grievances during the current economic hardship in the country.
"What is happening is a harassment of civilians, but any harassment of civilians by the government is not acceptable. They need to pull out their guns, tanks and all the forces that are on the streets of Juba," he stressed.
Observers say the deployment could be an indication that the government is leaning towards giving the military greater influence to make major decisions in the country.
Military commanders frustrated by what they consider ineffective management of the situation by the executive have argued for greater freedom to make daily decisions on how best to control the situation.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team