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No SSudan Independence Celebrations

FILE - A South Sudanese man wears a headdress of feathers and the national flag, as he attends an independence day ceremony in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Thursday, July 9, 2015.

South Sudanese criticized their government Monday for not organizing a celebration of the country’s 11th independence anniversary this week.

Independence Day is a public holiday in South Sudan on July 9th each year, but the government said no public celebration is planned this year due to a lack of funds.

The Council of Ministers will spend available resources on the graduation of unified forces instead, said Information Minister Michael Mikuei.

“The little funds we have, we have to make use of them for the graduation of the forces that had been in the training centers for long, so the cabinet decided the celebration this year will be limited to the president whereby he will address the nation on the evening of July 8th,” Makuei told VOA.

South Sudanese Akol Mayien said it’s disappointing when the government repeatedly fails to celebrate its independence. He believes SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) Revolution Day on May 16th, Referendum Day on January 9th and Independence Day on July 9, which are all public holidays, should all be properly celebrated.

“Without these three days, we will not be calling ourselves people from the Republic of South Sudan. These are the days which led to the creation of South Sudan,” Mayien told South Sudan in Focus.

Celebrating the country’s independence is the only way South Sudanese can reflect on the challenges they endured during their struggle for freedom, said Paulino Luku, a member of parliament in the Central Equatoria State Legislative Assembly.

“Independence is a very important national initiative that reflects the history of the people of South Sudan through the years of struggle starting since the colonization and before the Anglo–Egyptian [rule] to the regime of Arabs and finally to our independence,” Luku told South Sudan in Focus.

The country gained independence from Susan on July 9, 2011 but celebrations have been few and far between. The last formal celebrations were held in 2014.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the government urged citizens to celebrate at home out of an abundance of caution.