Feature: South Sudan citizens mark Independence Day amid hope for peace-Xinhua

Feature: South Sudan citizens mark Independence Day amid hope for peace

Source: Xinhua| 2022-07-09 23:48:15|Editor: huaxia

JUBA, July 9 (Xinhua) -- As South Sudan marked its 11th independence anniversary on Saturday, many of the country's citizens are now pinning hope on revitalized peace deal to end years of conflicts and economic hardship.

Jackline Mami, a 30-year-old mother of three who runs an open restaurant within the University of Juba, said that the hope of a better country that many people like her had on independence eve in 2011 were dashed when the December 2013 conflict erupted.

"I know that we have freedom compared to years back, but we still have other things still affecting us, especially running businesses and our social lives," Mami told Xinhua during an interview on Saturday in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, saying that her hope for a better future for her family rests on the successful implementation of the peace deal signed in 2020 to end conflict between the government and opposition fighters.

"Many of us cannot afford to purchase in the market because all goods in the market are very expensive," she added while referring to the spiraling inflationary pressures.

The recent surge in prices of basic commodities has seen the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) depreciate against the U.S. dollar. The SSP was previously exchanging at 43 with the dollar but the rate has risen to 57 in the black market.

Ayuong Ring Majok Jong, a 27-year-old student of economics at the University of Juba, said he hopes the economy will stabilize and be competitive in the region when the parties implement the critical pending tasks within the peace deal. Majok noted that the 83,000 unified forces have spent more than two years now without being graduated.

"This is worrying many people because it demonstrates that our leaders are not fully committed to implementing the peace agreement," Majok remarked.

John Laat, a 31-year-old security officer at the Dawn newspaper, said while quoting President Salva Kiir's recent call for unity that South Sudan citizens need to end divisions along ethnic lines. "In South Sudan, we prefer to identify ourselves by tribe yet all of us should be regarded as citizens of this country," said Laat.

President Kiir while addressing the nation on Thursday promised never to take his country back to war.

Amer Manyok Deng, the head of the women bloc, a civil society organization, said the South Sudanese leaders need to fully implement the peace deal, and allow safe conditions for the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees still living in camps.

Edmund Yakani, the executive director of community empowerment for progress organization, noted some progress in terms of infrastructure development and improved security due to cessation of hostilities in South Sudan. "We have registered some progress in infrastructure development, you can now move from Juba to Bor safely by road but we still need our leaders to sort out their political differences and also work to stabilize the economy," Yakani said.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 after more than two decades of civil war but again plunged into conflict in December 2013 after President Kiir sacked his former Vice President Riek Machar leaving the youngest nation in economic turmoil as conflict disrupted oil production, the main foreign currency earner.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Friday called on South Sudanese leaders to redouble efforts to agree on a roadmap to pave the way towards free, fair and credible elections.