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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has announced the dismissal of the army chief, Gen Johnson Juma Okot, and reassigned him as the country’s ambassador to Belgium.

Okot who was the head of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF), was replaced with Gen Santino Deng Wol.

However, the president did not give the reason for the move.

Gen Ruben Malek Riak was also dismissed from his position as deputy minister of defence and replaced with Lt-Gen Chol Thon Balok.

President Kiir also replaced Gen Thomas Duoth Guet as the director-general of the intelligence wing of the National Security Service (NSS) with Maj-Gen Simon Yien Makuac.

However, the president promoted Akol Khor Kuc, the head of the internal security wing of the NSS to the rank of first lieutenant-general while maintaining his position.

At least 10 people, including the two pilots, died when a plane crashed on Tuesday at an airstrip in South Sudan’s Jonglei state, the region’s governor said.

It happened at Pieri airstrip shortly after take-off while heading to the capital, Juba.

Transport Minister Madut Biar Yel stated that a team of investigators was sent to the site of the crash to conduct preliminary investigations.

It was gathered that the plane belonged to a local aviation company, the South Supreme Airlines. The firm has not yet issued a statement about the crash.

Jonglei State Governor Denay Jock Chagor said he received the news with shock and horror and sent condolences to the families and friends of the deceased.

A Presidential aide has confirmed that twenty-seven members of South Sudan’s president’s staff have contracted Covid-19.

It was gathered that those affected are mainly junior staff and members of the presidential security team.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny, however, confirmed that President Salva Kiir has not contracted the virus. 

“It is true, more than 20 staff have tested positive, particularly the close protection and junior staff within the office of the President. I am one of the two senior staff who tested positive; me and the policy analysts – the total number is 27,” Mr Ateny told the BBC.

He added that all staff at the State House in the capital, Juba, will undergo a second round of testing as a precaution. Two cabinet ministers and a presidential adviser will also have a second test.

The Sudanese government declared curfew in three states in light of widespread popular protests against hard living conditions and lack of security in some areas.

The protests broke out on Tuesday in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state, and other parts of Sudan over the rising cost of living.The demonstrations were sparked by sharp increases in the costs of main ingredients for making bread.

No to high prices, no to hunger,” protesters chanted, as police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

The protesters hurled stones at police and set several shops on fire in the main market. They hurled stones at the municipality building and set tyres on fire on main streets.

Similar demonstrations were held in other regions like Red sea city of Port Sudan and North Kordofan state in which a state of emergency has been declared  to protect the lives of citizens and their properties. The curfew will last from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. (1600GMT until 0400GMT).

The health authorities in South Sudan has disclosed that about 78 frontline healthcare workers have tested positive for Covid-19 while one male health worker has died.

“It is very unfortunate to mention that we have lost one of the healthcare workers. He used to work at Juba Teaching Hospital, he is one of the people that were affected by the virus and this is the only record we have as a fatality amongst healthcare workers,” Dr Matthew Tut told journalists in the capital, Juba.

It was also gathered that, last month, eight health workers resigned because of pressure from their families, who expressed concerns that they might bring the virus home and infect their relatives.