South Sudan brass band prepare for Independence Day celebration last year. [Photo | David Azia/AP]
July 3, 2012 (ABYEI) -Maridama James Benjamin, commissioner of Western Bahr el Ghazal State headquarters who chairs state independence celebration organising committee said the area is already in “celebratory mood”.
South Sudanese voted to secede from Sudan as part of 2005 peace that ended decades of conflict.
“The town is already in celebration mood. People have completed all preparations and are only waiting for the day. As government, all organised forces have been put on maximum alert to provide adequate security. Our citizens should not worry about their safety and security”, Benjamin explained in an interview with Sudan Tribune by phone from Wau, capital of the state.
He explained that the independence celebrations would remind South Sudanese of the struggle and sacrificed made by generations demanding freedom, peace, stability.
Around two million died and four million displaced in the conflict between southern rebels and Khartoum that lasted over two decades.
The July 9 celebrations would be an occasion for the government and the citizens to evaluate the past and see what needs to be done to charter way forward, Benjamin said.
“The freedom we have today was not given by anybody. It was freedom for which our people fought. And a lot of lives have been lost. So independence celebration means a lot to our people”, Benjamin explained.
However, South Sudan’s first year of independence has not been smooth with many issues still unresolved with neighbouring Sudan. An oil dispute has meant the government is undergoing severe austerity measures to adapt to loosing 98% of its revenue.
Sudan and South Sudan have also clashed over their poorly demarcated and largely contested border, raising fears of a return to all out conflict. Talks have resumed in Addis Ababa.
Internally South Sudan is also struggling to cope with corruption and humanitarian issues caused by internal conflict and by refugees from Sudan.
Juba has also been criticised for its poor human rights record and attacks against the press in recent reports. Critics of the SPLM government say that the rebels turned ruling party are failing to live up to the values they fought for during the civil war.
However, Benjamin said Tuesday that South Sudan was "celebrating the anarchy of peace, freedom and liberty looking forward for total reconciliation and endless democracy."