South Sudan commemorates SPLA day
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) commemorates its 35th anniversary with events across war-torn South Sudan, celebrating the formation of the former rebel movement in Sudan - now the South Sudanese army- on 16 May 1983.
The SPLA Day is a public holiday in the country.
The founding of the SPLA started the second civil war in Sudan, which continued for 21 years, killed over two million people and displaced millions but led to the independence of the world’s youngest nation as part of a peace agreement signed in 2005.
On 16 May 1983, a group of soldiers from the Sudanese army’s 105 garrison in the Bor area mutinied. The mutiny was followed by 104 garrisons in Ayod, Akobo and Pachalla later. The defection of southerners in the Sudanese army affected the 1972 Addis Ababa peace agreement that was abrogated by former Sudan’s president Jaafar Nimeiri.
John Garang, who had been dispatched by the army leadership to quell the new rebellion, joined the mutineers and became the leader of the SPLA movement until his death in 2005 after he signed a peace agreement with the Khartoum government in 2005.
On 9 July 2011 the SPLA became South Sudan’s army.
In his message on the SPLA Day, President Salva Kiir, who doubles as the commander-in-chief of the SPLA army, said:” The message I want to give to our army is that we have come along away… so whatever problems we are facing now should not shatter the feeling of our fighters.”
“Things are difficult but they were much more difficult than what we are experiencing today. Let everybody remember the sacrifices that have been made by our martyrs,” he added.
The South Sudanese leader said many people died when they were pursuing the right cause of liberation.” I want to thank our martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the nation they did not enjoy. Let us work hard so that their sacrifices do not go in vain,” he said.