South Sudan's Equatorial Students in Ugandan Union Row

Kampala — Students from three of South Sudan's Equatoria states said they are "dissatisfied" with the union's leadership and announced their non-participation until the problems are rectified.

Members of the South Sudanese Students' Union in Uganda (SSSU) were voted out in October when allegations of fund mismanaggement began to circulate. Uganda police acquitted all but one of them of all charges in November.

SSSU president James Mayar and three top officials said their names were cleared and only secretary of finance, Bill Dhieu, had a case to answer in court.

Mayar, after being reinstated to the office, signed an amended SSSU constitution and an appointed electoral commission to organise polls slated for 9 December. However, South Sudanese Equatoria Students' Union in Uganda (SSESUU) claimed in a letter extended to the Sudan Tribune that the constitution has been violated.

"The [South Sudanese Students'] union is a student's institution governed by the constitution being the supreme law and which plays a central role in uniting all South Sudanese," the letter, signed by SSESUU leader Santo Denis Silla, reads in part.

Silla said the organisation he heads met on Thursday and "came up clearly to stand against the ongoing issues...[and] disagree with such leadership in the strongest terms possible."

"Greater Equatoria students' unions in Uganda accept to suspend active participation in the [South Sudanese] students' union in Uganda as long as the current system is not rectified," the letter added.

The SSSESUU demands that the speaker of the students' parliament, who served as interim leader, before the top executives were cleared by police, be reinstated and that other members be reinstated, by a parliamentary vote.

Mayar said the decision to suspend participation is not a solution and is "against the unity of South Sudanese."

In response to allegations that he reinstated himself in the office without the necessary parliamentary vote, Mayar claimed that three sessions were suspended due to a lack of a forum for representatives and that "time is not on our side."

The chairperson of students' electoral commission, Malith Garang, said the votes for a new leadership will go ahead as planned on 9 December in Kampala.

"What we are talking about is true democracy but if the democratic means are tampered with, then I will stop my campaigns," said Oneck Alfred, a student from Makerere University who had applied for the post of secretary of information.

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