[ACNS, by Kenyi Dube] The archbishop of the internal province of Northern Bahr el ghazel, Archbishop Moses Deng Bol, has appealed to South Sudan’s government to stop forcing citizens to attend public gatherings. He made the remarks at an event organised by Okay Africa Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, formed in 2016 in Juba to advocate for the rights of youths, women and children.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011, and every year on the anniversary shops are forced to close and everybody is asked to attend events to mark the occasion. But since 2016 the government has not been organising official celebrations due to lack of funds.
In his speech, the archbishop applauded the youths for turning up to attend such events, so that they are able to understand the recent peace agreement and security arrangement.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army – the SPLA – is the movement that brought south Sudan to independence. According to the Archbishop, people fail to attend most public gatherings because of harassment by the security forces who force people to attend and order shops, restaurants and supermarkets to close. This doesn’t encourage citizens to attend any public gathering and when they close their businesses, they usually go home rather than the organised events.
Archbishop Moses said that political leaders focus their speeches on their political parties rather than addressing issues of concern to the wider community. “Do the best for your citizens and when there is a public gathering like the Independence Day there will be no need to force them close their shops or force them to attend”, he said, “they will voluntarily close their shops and celebrate with you.”