By Taban Henry
The South Sudan People’s Defenses Forces (SSPDF) has been reminded of their duty of protecting the civilians.
This came as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) celebrated their thirty-nineth anniversary yesterday with events across war-torn South Sudan, celebrating the formation of the former rebel movement in Sudan which is now the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces – on 16 May 1983.
The SPLA day is a public holiday in the country whose founding dates back to the second civil war in the then Sudan, which continued for 21 years and killed over two million people and left millions displaced but later led to independence; where South Sudan became the world’s youngest nation as part of peace agreement signed in 2005.
John Garang, who by then was dispatched by the army leadership to quell the new rebellion, joined the mutineers and became the leader of the SPLA movement until his death in 2005 after the signing of the peace agreement with the Khartoum government in 2005.
President Salva Kiir Mayardit who doubles as the Commander-In-Chief of the SPLA, in his message on SPLA Day reminded the soldiers to protect civilians and their properties whenever they are threatened.
He congratulated all organized forces for their dedication to their duty.
“Thirty-nine years ago, the gallant forces of battalion 105 fired the first bullet in Bor, which commenced the Sudanese second civil war. The SPLA day is a landmark event in our history because it reminds our nation of our struggle. It is also a day that we recall the sacrifices made by our martyrs who lost their lives in our painful journey to our statehood,” he said.
Kiir salutes the ranks and files of the SPLA in all their formations along with their officers who led them gallantly during the war for national liberation. “We salute our leader Dr. John Garang De Mabior and all his colleagues whose decisive and determined efforts propelled our struggle to the final conclusion: achievement of our freedom” he said.
He directed his best wishes to the SPLA Day and encouraged the citizens to use their past struggle as a guide when dealing with current challenges facing the country.
“With the Unified Command Structure in place, a new spirit of togetherness should guide your actions as you work to meet the challenges confronting you. Above all, let the sacrifices of our martyrs be your inspiration as you prepare the plans for the graduation of the unified forces and challenges that comes with that,” he added.