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 heavy deployment of security forces within the 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 Konyokonyo.
He described the soldiers as “friendly.”
“All the soldiers who stopped me to check my car are friendly and having good approach.”
The army and the national police service said the deployment and the searches were in preparations for the celebrations of the SPLA Day today. But yesterday, the army announced the postponement of the official event to next week, Thursday.
The SSPDF Spokesperson, Major General Lul Ruai told Eye Radio that they are inviting foreign dignitaries to grace the occassion.
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 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.
Later on, these mutineers would form the core of SPLA.
Colonel John Garang de Mabior was sent to quell the rebellion, but instead ended up leading the movement that successful 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 the 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 assualt 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 is open to all groups, return of Sudan to democracy, and the conduct of the referendum for Southern Sudanese after 6 years.
Dr. Garang died in 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.