South Sudan on Saturday marks the day it seceded from Sudan five years ago under the leadership of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.
Two years after, the line cracks withing the ruling party began to show. Political infighting erupted, after the country’s President Salva Kiir accused his vice president Riek Machar of an attempted coup.
Tens of thousands of people have died since December 2013 and the beginning of the civil war that ravaged the young country and its economy, leading the government to cancel for the first time the celebrations of independence.
Violence spread, killing thousands and displacing close to half a million people to date.
In August 2015 Kiir signed a peace deal (the latest among a several that had been signed before) that would see him and and Machar reunite to work together in mending the country.
However, the fighting has continued, becoming increasingly brutal and affecting nearly the entire country.
There are citizens though like Sestilio Juba, that are optimistic that peace in the country will hold soon and say the country should celebrate its independence.
“We know that we are facing a lot of challenges but our independence anniversary is above everything else. We are happy that we have reached the fifth independent anniversary. So I am really happy with the independence of South Sudan,” he said.
However, there are those who say the raging violence, dire food shortages and displacements, leave little room for celebrations.
“There are lot of problems and the security is not good, the prices in the market are not good, and there was no need for the independence and I think we should’ve remained one country,” said Lily John.
There will be no formal celebrations on Saturday. The country’s information ministry last week announced that the government would instead paddle the money towards paying salaries amongst other priorities.
“The fact that the government did not even have enough money to celebrate the anniversary shows the magnitude of the economic difficulties,” notes James Alic Garang, an economist with the think tank Ebony Center based in Juba, the south Sudanese capital.
Prices of goods and services have exploded since independence in 2011, with inflation currently flirting with 300% and a currency that has lost 90% of its value this year.