Thousands celebrate SPLM/SPLA Day in Juba
JUBA (May 26, 2009) – The people of Juba came out in full force on Tuesday to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the founding of the SPLM/SPLA, which led Sudan’s 21-year liberation struggle.
The SPLM/SPLA fought successive regimes in Khartoum for more than two decades to end the political oppression, economic exploitation and social degradation of the majority of Sudanese people by minority regimes.
The war ended with the signing in 2005 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Nairobi, Kenya.
This year’s celebrations were held under the theme: “Remembering the People’s Struggle and together to face the challenges of Democratic Transformation.”
The theme of the celebration: Remembering the People’s Struggle and together to face the challenges of Democratic Transformation
The festivities kicked off at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba with a military-led parade.
People cheered as SPLA Commandos led the march, which involved several other SPLA elements such as the engineering corps, signal corps, artillery corps and the police, prisons, wildlife forces and fire brigade.
SPLA Special Commandos
The forces saluted Cde Mayardit, also Sudan’s first vice president, president of the Government of South Sudan and Commander in Chief of the SPLA, as they passed the podium.
It was the first time the SPLA made a public display in Juba of equipment it captured during the armed struggle since they signing of the peace agreement.
And the collection included tanks and anti-aircraft batteries.
“I am sure that such celebrations of our revolutionary day will and shall continue to be celebrated for all generations to come,” said Cde Mayardit. “It will always remain as the only day that allows us to recall our long and heroic struggle for justice, freedom and equality and dignity,” he added.
The SPLM leader also paid tribute to the great heroes of the liberation struggle.
“It is a day to remember and honor the selfless sacrifices of our martyrs, heroes and heroines and to reaffirm our determination to lay a solid foundation for a united, peaceful and prosperous society based on justice, equality, respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Mayardit noted.
SPLM Secretary for Political Affairs and Mobilization Cde Antipas Nyok addressed the gathering on behalf of the SPLM Deputy Secretary General for the Southern Sector Cde Dr. Anne Itto.
SPLM Secretary for Political Affairs and Mobilization Cde Antipas Nyok speaking on behalf of the
SPLM Deputy Secretary General for the Southern Sector
He said May 16th represented a “special day in the history of the marginalized people of Sudan.”
Cde Nyok explained that the struggle was about ending descrimination and injustices and bring about a “new political dispensation” in Sudan.
Central Equatoria Governor Clement Wani Konga congratulated the SPLM/SPLA for leading the liberation struggle.
He further commented on recent ethnic clashes between the Mundari and Bari in Central Equatoria, voicing concern about an arms race that could lead to an escalation of simmering tensions amongst the two normally friendly communities.
The newly elected leader of the United Democratic Salvation Front Gabriel Changson Chan appealed for the unity of all southern Sudanese and urged all to foster peace.
“We need to preach the gospel of peace, the gospel of reconciliation,” he said.
The UDSF leader also reminded the SPLM to live up to commitments it made.
“We have to deliver socio-economic services to the people,” said Chan.
A United States consulate representative at the occasion exhorted the SPLM to remain engaged in efforts to resolve the conflict raging on in the western region of Darfur and pacify southern Sudan.
The U.S., he promised, would continue to “stand in solidarity with each of you.”
SPLM Youth and Women’s leagues representatives also spoke at the gathering.
Cde Mary Kiden, representing the Women’s League, said women suffered systematic humiliation under successive regimes in Khartoum, something that she said was being phased out; thanks to the efforts of the SPLM.
She enumerated the contributions that women made during the armed struggle.
Cde Kiden used the occasion to register disapproval of the criminal and violent behavior of individuals in SPLA uniform and demanded an immediate end to their activities.
Representatives of SPLA War Veterans and Wounded Heroes and Heroines also addressed the crowd.
Brigadier Deng Dau, speaking on behalf of Wounded Heroes pledged continued and unwavering support for the leadership of the SPLM/SPLA.
Brigadier Deng Dau
He said he and his colleagues enlisted in the SPLA fully aware about the consequences of their decisions and the sacrifices that come with them.
Brig. Dau lauded that wives of Wounded Heroes who chose to remain with their husbands and praised the wives of SPLA Martyrs for maintaining the names of their departed husbands.
SPLA artists performed for the participants, who were also treated to a cornucopia of traditional dances.