May 15, 14 (BOR) – A planned rehearsal by South Sudan army (SPLA) soldiers in preparation for the 16 May inception day celebrations caused panic among civilians in Jonglei’s state capital, Bor on Thursday.
- Protesting soldiers seen at the University of Juba junction on 24 March 2014 (ST)
Atong Majak Ngueng, a resident of Bor Hai-Machuor, said civilians scampered for safety when sporadic gunfire erupted, with no explanation from state authorities.
"There is shooting everywhere. Several other women who did not know what it meant also ran to different directions for help, only to be told that was May 16 celebration", Atong told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
Similar shootings reportedly occurred in Lakes state’s Awerial county where hundreds of displaced civilians from its neighbouring Jonglei, are currently settled.
It was on 16 May 1983 when the SPLA led by its late founder John Garang fired the first bullet that eventually sparked off the over two-decade rebellion with the Sudanese government, prior to the 2005 peace deal ending one of the longest civil wars.
The army had reportedly declined the state government’s directive to suspend this year’s military day celebrations, citing the security situation in the country.
“The state government has decided to postpone the celebration because of security reasons within and around the state capital”, Jody Jonglei, the state minister of information and communication told reporters in Bor on Thursday.
"So instead of coming to celebrate the day in Bor, the soldiers would continue to protect their positions in the areas they currently control in Jonglei state", he added.
Sources within the army, told Sudan Tribune that the soldiers will match from Bor center to the airport in "celebration of our victory against [Riek] Machar rebels”.
“This day doesn’t need any budget for it to be celebrated. It should be celebrated to acknowledge our commitments against the rebels. We should begin with the present to remember the past”, said an officer who asked not to be named.
It however remains unclear whether the army would conduct their usual military parade on Friday or comply with government order not to hold celebrations.