The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has postponed SPLA Day celebrations in Juba until Thursday, May 23, citing the need for additional time for preparations. Heightened security measures are being implemented, including house-to-house searches for illegal firearms and other "prohibited items."
The newly emerged Red Card Movement is also expected to hold anti-government rallies to coincide with SPLA Day celebrations on Thursday, to protest the current President Salva Kiir's perceived failure to restore peace and stability in the country. The movement had originally planned rallies for Wednesday, May 15, and Thursday, May 16; however, the gatherings in Juba were postponed.
A heightened security presence and crowded conditions are likely over the coming days. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out. Transportation disruptions are possible throughout Juba due to military checkpoints and an increased security presence.
SPLA Day is a public holiday commemorated annually on May 16. The holiday is celebrated in memory of the formation of the former rebel movement in Sudan on May 16, 1983.
In response to the call for Red Card Movement rallies in Juba on May 15-16, President Salva Kiir ordered the military to occupy Freedom Square. Troop deployments have been increased across Juba in recent weeks, and President Kiir has warned that any violent attempts to overthrow his government will be met with force.
South Sudan gained independence in 2011. A civil war broke out in December 2013 when President Kiir accused his Vice President Riek Machar of trying to overthrow him. In August 2018, Kiir and Machar signed a final ceasefire and power-sharing agreement. Despite the agreement, violence has continued in some areas and tensions remain.
Individuals in Juba are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and home governments.
The security situation in South Sudan remains complex. Many Western governments advise against all travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to essential travel.
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