Home | News    Tuesday 8 February 2005

SPLM opens offices in government-controlled Juba

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JUBA, Feb 8, 2005 (IRIN) — The southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) has opened offices in Juba barely a month after signing a comprehensive peace accord with Khartoum to end 21 years of conflict.

The southern Sudanese flag flew high as jubilant crowds held banners that read: ’Welcome, Welcome new Sudan’, ’Bye-Bye Old Sudan’ and ’Our long awaited child "peace" is born, handle him with care’.

The southern town of Juba had, until now, been under Sudanese government
control. Sources said, however, that the SPLM/A had maintained a
clandestine presence in the town for many years.

"It used to be very dangerous, everything had to be done with the utmost
caution," Archangelo Storrs, newly appointed Finance Minister for
Equatoria, said.

As a token of reconciliation, Philip Koti, Vice Chairman of the Equatoria
sector of SPLM/A, invited political and military leaders of the ruling
National Congress Party into the Juba SPLM/A headquarters.

"Don’t fear, the time of fear is over, now is the time for action," he
said.

Hostilities between the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A officially
ended on the 9 January with the signing of a comprehensive peace
agreement.

The "New Sudan" is based upon a power-sharing protocol in which Khartoum
will form a government of national unity with a decentralised system of
administration, allowing the SPLM to set up a semi-autonomous
administration in the south.

This power-sharing status will remain in place for a six-year interim
period, after which a referendum will allow the people of southern Sudan
to decide whether they wish to remain as a united country or become a
separate independent nation.

Storrs noted that many challenges lay ahead for the joint leadership,
including the pressing economic need to allow access for travel from Juba
to the neighbouring town of Yei.

"The problem is there are still many un-marked landmines," he said.
"People are now resorting to bush roads in order to come to Juba."

While the town of Rumbek will initially be the main political headquarters
in the south, John Garang, the leader of SPLM/A, has previously stated
that Juba would eventually become the new capital of South Sudan.

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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