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Juba postpones SPLA Day celebrations

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: Thursday, May 16, 2019

SPLA soldiers in a parade in the early days. PHOTO: Abul Oyai

The official celebration of the SPLA Day in Juba has been postponed to next week, despite the day being a public holiday.

Throughout the week, residents of Juba have observed the heavy deployment of security forces along major roads in the capital.

Yesterday, the organized forces conducted gun search operations on motorists and into residential areas.

Some residents told Eye Radio that they were surprised when members of the organized forces entered into their homes during the night and early in the morning to search for guns.

The organized forces were still searching vehicles on the roads this morning.

One resident who drove around Juba said he observed most of the shops are closed, and the traffic was minimal.

“There is no traffic jam, markets are closed but I managed to buy something from the few shops that are operating normally in Konyo-konyo.

He described the soldiers as “friendly.”

“All the soldiers who stopped me to check my car are friendly and having a good approach.”

The road passing through Dr. John Garang Mausoleum has been sealed off by landcruisers mounted with machine guns.

The army and the national police service had stated that the heavy deployment and random searches were in preparations for the celebrations of the SPLA Day today. But yesterday, it also announced the postponement of the official event to next week, Thursday.

“What we have been doing is to ensure maximum security for the would be celebrants on the 16th or now on the 23rd, the new date for the celebration,” The SSPDF Spokesperson, Major General Lul Ruai told Eye Radio.

He added that they are inviting foreign dignitaries to grace the occasion.

“We were expecting high turnout of regional and some international dignitaries to grace the occasion, as well as the inauguration of a new building. Most of the dignitaries requested for the postponement because there are a lot of schedules,” Maj. Gen. Lul said.

“The other ones are the logistical arrangement, of course most of these dignitaries are going to stay in hotel and there was need for our logistics to be right.”

“Sita-asher Mayo”

16th May marks the day the SPLM/SPLA was established to wage a war against various regimes in Khartoum, advocating for a secular state.

In 1983, a group of mutineers led by Major Kerubino Kuanyin and Yusif Kiir Tang from the army garrison in Bor opened fire on their Sudanese counterparts, sparking the outbreak of conflict in Ayod, Pibor and other parts of the then Southern Sudan.

Major William Nyuon in Ayod garrison and Capt David Riek Machuoc in Pibor garrison also mutinied, and Capt. Salva Kiir and Lt. Col Francis Ngor in Malakal followed suit.

A living hero of May 16th revolution, Lt. Gen David Riek Machuoc of Pibor Garrison, now living as an IDP at PoC in Juba.

Later on, these mutineers were joined by others, and among them were Col Dr. John Garang, Maker Deng Malow, Garang Akok, Chigai Atem and Mama Rebecca Nyandeng, and formed the core of SPLA.

Colonel John Garang de Mabior was sent to quell the rebellion but instead ended up leading the movement that successfully fought regimes in Khartoum until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2015.

Since 2004, South Sudanese have often marked the day to pay tribute to those who fought and died during second Sudan’s civil war.

It is also held to gratify the SPLA for the sacrifice its soldiers and leaders made to ensure South Sudanese regain their rights to determine their future.

The SPLA ended its assault on the Sudanese army after the Dr. John Garang and former Vice President of Sudan, Ali Osman Taha signed the CPA in Naivasha, Kenya.

The agreement was developed in the backdrop of a “New Sudan” that Dr. Garang has been advocating for. It allows for the establishment of a secular state where religion and politics are open to all groups, the return of Sudan to democracy, and the conduct of the referendum for Southern Sudanese after 6 years.

Dr. Garang died in a helicopter crash in July 2005, and his deputy, Salva Kiir Mayardit took over the leadership of the 3 decades old movement.

In 2011, South Sudanese voted for an independent country, and SPLA became the official army of the new nation.

However, the conflict that erupted in South Sudan in 2013, has often interfered with the official celebrations of such a day.

The SPLA in 2017 changed its name to South Sudan People’s Defense Forces.

But the day is still known to the public as the SPLA Day.

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