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JUBA - 15 May 2019

SPLA Day celebration abruptly delayed

South Sudan’s army on Wednesday moved SPLA Day celebrations, originally scheduled for May 16, to May 23, citing incomplete arrangements.

The army commemorates its anniversary with events across South Sudan, celebrating the formation of the former rebel movement in Sudan - now the South Sudanese army- on 16 May 1983.

Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, was where the first shots were fired in the Second Sudanese civil war, when the late Dr John Garang launched a mutiny in 1983.

The SPLA Day is a public holiday in the country.

Lul Ruai Koang, spokesman of the army, told Radio Tamazuj the celebration was postponed until next week due to incomplete arrangements.

He further said the move is to allow the organizing committee to complete all the necessary arrangements before hosting dignitaries in Juba.

“We want to inaugurate new offices for the defense ministry and we invited people from neighboring countries to attend the event,” he said.

“We decided to move the SPLA Day celebrations for one week so that we complete the necessary arrangements,” he added.

Lul confirmed that soldiers have been deployed in the capital Juba to help secure the city.” We are securing the city for the SPLA Day celebrations, so there is no any major problem,” he said.

The spokesperson says the army is not aware of any plan for anti-government demonstrations in the capital Juba on May 16.

“If citizens want to protest, they can get permission from the police, so the army is not aware of any plan for protests,” he said.

South Sudanese youth are mobilizing through social media demanding the ouster of President Salva Kiir. Several youth in diaspora and in the country have called for anti-government protests in Juba on May 16.