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S. Sudanese activist criticizes presidential ban on anthem use

July 22, 2019 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese activists has expressed concerns over President Salva Kiir’s recent directive on banning the singing of the national anthem at any public event in his absence.

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South Sudanese civil society activist Edmund Yakani (The Niles/File)

The directive was announced by the minister of information, Michael Makuei after the weekly cabinet meeting held last week.

Makuei, according to various media reports, argued that the country national anthem was being misused by mainly government officials.

But in a statement issued on Tuesday, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) said it is disturbed by orders banning use of the national anthem by anybody apart from the president.

“The national anthem is one of the indicators for citizens’ ownership of the national and affiliation to the nation. Schools students, Boy Scouts, girl guards and South Sudanese in front of foreigners in foreign events all can identify themselves with national anthem plus other occupation,” partly reads CEPO’s statement.

“Being proud of your nation is by owning or demonstrating affiliation by singing the anthem or publicly holding a national flag,” it adds.

CEPO has appealed to the office of the president to allow citizens to have free affiliation to the nation by owning the national anthem.

“It is true that the national anthem sometimes is abused by others. It is good to define all acts that constitute abuse of national anthem than banning citizens from publicly singing the national song,” it said.

Meanwhile, Makuei said the president also directed all commanders in their respective forces to stop speaking at any public function.

“They have the choice either to leave the uniform and go to the public and be a politician and be free to talk in public rallies,” he told reporters in the capital, Juba on Friday last week.

Edmund Yakani, the executive director of CEPO, has welcomed the president’s latest directive for men and women in uniform.

“This is remarkable directive for separating politics from defense and security. It was seriously observed across the country as some individuals are engaged the militarizing politics and politicking military for personal gains,” said Yakani.

He further added, “H.E. the President has made the right decision”.

South Sudan attained independence from Sudan in July 2011 when its population overwhelmingly voted for separation in a referendum.

(ST)