This Friday will be the 10th anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, but the government is asking the population to remain indoors, citing the pandemic.
South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation.
Deputy Information Minister Baba Medan joined other South Sudanese ministers to share their concerns about citizens holding public events as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
“His Excellency (President Salva Kiir) orders the public, the citizens of South Sudan, to celebrate in their own homes,” Medan told reporters after the meeting per Africa News, adding that President Kiir would make a public speech, “so that everyone will see it on their television or hear it on their radio, and we will also avoid any public health problems.”
The sole independence event approved is a 10 km race called the Great South Sudan Run, which will kick off in the capital Juba, the deputy minister said.
The president asserted that heavy international sanctions mean that even if we were not in the midst of a pandemic, the celebrations would have been minimal.
“That is why we will not celebrate the tenth anniversary in the way people would have liked,” Kiir said in an interview with Kenyan television station Citizen TV.
In 2011, Kiir, a former rebel leader, was sworn in as South Sudan’s first president, with Riek Machar, another rebel leader, as his deputy. The country received billions of dollars in financial support after Kiir took the helm. But two years later, a bloody civil war between Kiir and Machar would rock the nation. Over the next five years, 400,000 people were killed and four million others displaced. The economy, in ruins.
South Sudan is currently home to approximately 12 million people and more than 60 tribes or ethnic groups.