The security environment in Juba has taken a sudden turn for the worse. Following the announcement of election results this afternoon, riots and confrontations were reported in the Hai Malakal and Customs areas of Juba town. The United Nations and other security services confirmed that shots were fired in the Hai Malakal area during confrontations. Heavily armed units of military and police deployed throughout the area in trucks and armored personnel carriers. All traffic and pedestrians were banned from entering.
All United Nations staff are on lockdown.
Reports indicate that the confrontation involves supporters of Independent candidate Alfred Ladu Gore, who ran for the gubernatorial seat for Central Equitoria. The word on the street, and among some polling officials and election observers, is that Gore won more popular votes than his opponent, the SPLM incumbent, Lt. General Clement Wani. The outcome, however, does not reflect such claims.
The issue of independent candidates was a tricky one throughout the elections process. Feeling that the SPLM candidate nomination process was unfair, some 300 SPLM members, many of them fairly senior, opted to break ranks and run on their own. This infuriated many within the SPLM and caused considerable tension in races throughout the region.
The Central Equitoria gubernatorial race proved particularly tense due to strong support for Alfred Gore. In the days before results were announced, rumors circulated that neither candidate would accept the other’s victory and that confrontations were probable.
Juba residents fear that violence might spread if political agreements are not reached. “We do not know what will happen,” says Robert, a local resident. “We are just remaining inside and praying that it will not get worse.”
I’m slated to move with police forces tomorrow. We’ll see if they will really allow it. Updates to follow.