South Sudanese states celebrate second independence anniversary

9 Jul 2013

South Sudanese states celebrate second independence anniversary

9 July 2013 - Hundreds of thousands of people in South Sudan's 10 states celebrated the country's second independence anniversary today with military parades, speeches, singing, dancing and sports.

The common theme for the day was "Towards effective nation-building and prosperity for all".

In Jonglei, South Sudan's largest and more conflict-prone state, Governor Koul Manyang Juuk called for an end to tribalism, saying it was time for the state's people to use their diversity for common good.

"You cannot develop this state if you do not accept yourself as equal sons and daughters of Jonglei," Governor Juuk said. "Jonglei is perhaps the greatest state in the nation, (but) some self-centered cliques are ruining our image."

Bor Municipality Mayor Nyal Majok Nyal decried the traditional practice of body-marking as a way to identify people by tribe, stating it was dividing the people of South Sudan.

"We cannot develop and build this nation with old (attitudes)," he said. "We need to acquire new (attitudes)... to (reverse the cycle) of poverty and conflict."

Members of the UNMISS South Korean Engineering contingent gave a performance of traditional martial arts – Taekwando -- to great applause from the crowds gathered in Bor.

In Unity State, Acting Governor Micheal Chiangjiek Geay, who is also Deputy Governor and Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement, emphasized the importance of peace and agriculture.

"We (will) achieve independence in the true sense only when we are able to banish poverty, illiteracy and disease from our country," he said.

UNMISS State Coordinator Kenneth Payumo said South Sudan's people were working together to solve their problems.

"A few years ago ... people said they wanted peace and independence. ... Today, they say they need roads, schools ... this is the sign of a growing nation," he said.

Upper Nile State Governor Simon Kun Pouch urged citizens to maintain peaceful coexistence and embark on agriculture projects to improve their livelihoods.

During celebrations at Wau Stadium, Western Bahr El-Ghazal State, Governor Rizik Zakaria Hassan reiterated his government's commitment to maintain security and provide basic services for citizens, despite challenges like austerity measures and political wrangles.

"If every state commits itself and maintains security ... the country will be secure," he said. "Let us forgive (each other), clear our conscience(s) and go forward."

Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) sector commander for the Greater Bahr El-Ghazal region, Lt. Gen. Gabriel Jok, emphasized that the national army fought to liberate South Sudan, not to oppress it. He urged soldiers to refrain from affiliating with particular political parties or individual politicians.

UNMISS State Coordinator Winnie Babihuga reassured the state government of UNMISS support in reconciliation and peace-building.

Members of the Warrap State government and UNMISS staff teamed up for a pre-independence cleaning exercise in the state capital Kuajok on 8 July. Led by Governor Nyandeng Malek, the group collected waste in different parts of town, including Freedom Square, where the main celebrations were held today. Local women and students joined the cleaning exercise, which was characterized by singing and dancing.

In Lakes State, Caretaker Governor Matur Chut Dhuol called on citizens gathered at Rumbek's Freedom Square to establish good relationships with neighboring communities for genuine peace.

Governor Dhuol said his government would prioritize education, agriculture and roads, urging people to stop ambushing and robbing travelers along state routes. He lauded UNMISS support for development activities, including renovation of a playground in the square before independence celebrations.

The day was celebrated at Gbudue Stadium in Yambio, Western Equatoria State, where Governor Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro told a large crowd that security was his main priority, although lack of funds has hindered many development projects.
The governor urged citizens to support women's efforts to attend school and avoid gender-based violence. He called on organized forces to provide education for soldiers by establishing teaching programmes for all.

Also addressing the gathering, UNMISS State Coordinator Ataklti Hailu said that sustainable peace and development remained South Sudan's greatest challenges. "After decades of war and displacement South Sudan deserves much better conditions than the current ones."

Mr. Hailu noted that Western Equatoria enjoyed fertile land, rich natural resources, a good climate and relatively secure environment, but added that more was needed for economic progress. If the government adopted appropriate policies and fully mobilized people, the state could become the bread basket of South Sudan.