The abrupt departure of an academic from South Sudan’s largest university has raised new concerns about the state of free expression in Africa’s newest country.
Dr. Luka Biong Deng was allegedly ordered dismissed from the University of Juba on the grounds that he organized a panel discussion to shed light on the constitutionality and legality of President Salva Kiir’s recent order to increase the number of states in South Sudan from ten to 28.
The government has denied that it ordered Deng’s dismissal. Deng, who reportedly left the country, has not publicly stated the reason for his departure. Other reports say Deng requested to be relieved of his duties at the university in order to attend to family business.
Security officials in South Sudan routinely arrest and detain journalists deemed critical of the government. Eight journalists have also lost their lives in South Sudan just this year, one after a threat towards the press just days earlier from President Kiir.