GRAND, March to Eighth Independence Day
By Paul Jimbo
Tomorrow marks South Sudan’s eighth Independence Day in what is vividly described by many as a “special” day in the country’s history.
Annually, July 9th is a special day set aside to commemorate the very day the world’s youngest nation gained its independence.
The day marked the first day the country’s flag was raised for the first time, signalling self-rule, sovereignty and self-governance.
On 9th of July, 2011, the country gained independence from Sudan after several years of what Southerners termed as “massive” violations of their rights coupled with unprecedented marginalization.
In a referendum that year, almost 99 per cent of voters cast their votes for independence, and much of the international community swiftly recognized the fledgling nation.
The Independence Day came after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), a deal that ended two decades of civil war between the North and the South, a war that cost more than 2 million lives.
South Sudan enjoyed massive and robust economic boom soon after independence, a situation that saw foreign investors place their resources towards the country’s economic growth.
During independence, not many roads in South Sudan were paved, most streets were in darkness at night and not many investors had come into the country.
However this optimism and hope dwindled following the 2013 and 2016 conflicts that also claimed the lives of thousands of innocent lives besides the loss of property.
Worse still, the economy took a downward trend with inflation rates flaring up. On September 12, 2018, leaders across the political divide signed the much published Revitalised Peace Agreement.
Factions led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit and former Vice-President Dr Riek Machar consented to the deal to ensure this time round it holds.
Though the journey has been characterised by several challenges blamed for the lagging behind of the peace implementation process to meet timelines, lots of optimism remains that much has been achieved.
Hope remains on the horizon and actors continue pursuing the peace process with several monitoring mechanisms at hand.
The Revitalised Peace Agreement envisaged the formation of a Transitional Government of National Unity (T-GoNU) at the end of the first deadline in May 2019.
However parties to the peace process allowed themselves more time to cover more ground, particularly, on issues of cantonment and secession of hostilities.
Celebrations to mark the eighth Independence Day is unique in the fact that it is being celebrated at a time when the country’s eyes and focus are strained on the implementation of the Revitalised Peace Agreement.
Parties to the peace deal have very limited time to ensure all the pending bits of the agreement are implemented before the November 12th deadline as allowed by the May 12th extension.