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18:32:40, Saturday, 25 Mar 2017
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Gearing up for independence

Renovating Juba International Airport, paving roads and clearing slums are just a few ongoing preparations for the historic day on 9 July when Southern Sudan declares its long-awaited independence.

To plan independence celebrations in the capital Juba and coordinate plans with the 10 states, Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) President Salva Kiir Mayardit formed a High Level Committee chaired by Vice-President Riek Machar Teny via a decree last February.
The committee's mandated duties include choosing a venue for the declaration of independence, preparing a budget for the event and sending out invitations to dignitaries around the world.
Western Bahr El-Ghazal State Governor RiziqZakaria Hassan, who is a member of the regional committee, said meetings had been held at the GoSS level and sub-committees formed in states and counties.
In January of this year, the people of Southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence during an internationally monitored week-long referendum.
Officials from the Bahr El-Ghazal area State High Committees for the Celebration of Independence Day reported that plans were progressing well in Warrap as well as Northern and Western Bahr El-Ghazal states.
Western Bahr El-Ghazal had formed seven sub-committees, Governor Hassan said, and earmarked 2.2 million Sudanese Pounds ($700,000) for celebrations on 9 July.
“July 9 is a great day for us,” said Warrap State Governor Nyandeng Malek. “The way we are going to celebrate is a concern for everybody throughout the region.”
Governor Malek said her administration considered 9 July the most historic day in Southern Sudan's struggle for freedom and justice. Officials had formed a committee to organize celebrations in the state at the household, boma, payam, county and state levels. 
Unlike Western Bahr El-Ghazal, the state administration in Warrap is depending on the generosity of residents to fund celebrations.
“In the boma (town area), we are telling the commissioners we can provide sodas, sweets and other things, so contribute the bulls,” she said. “Let the women cook, people dance and eat your bulls. That is how we are going to celebrate.”
Governor Malek added that celebrations would be decentralized. “Each level will play its own role. Bomas will have their own, payams (township) will have their own, counties and up to state level,” she said. “Here at (the) state (capital Kuajok) we will have our own celebration at Freedom Square and we will decorate it and our flag will be raised.”
In Northern Bahr El-Ghazal, state officials, chiefs, religious leaders and prominent figures are working together to organize the celebrations.
“We have formed a state high committee for the celebration of the day at each level of the state and things are going smoothly and according to our plans,” said State Secretary General Garang Kuot.
A brighter future
Western Bahr El-Ghazal State Governor Hassan said 9 July meant the rebirth of the entire southern region after 22 years of struggle, and noted that it was endowed with vast natural resources. “Once we get our independence, I think South Sudan will develop very swiftly. I am quite optimistic.”
The lives of people in Warrap would improve, Governor Malek said, stating that she saw a brighter and better future for her state.
“The part that we are ending on 9 July is a part of (the) struggle for freedom, justice and equality,” said the Warrap governor. “Now we will continue our struggle against poverty, hunger and diseases.”
South Sudan would be a great nation that would play an effective and important role in the Horn of Africa, she stressed.
Officials urged residents to celebrate peacefully and avoid any violent acts on the day.
“The only thing we do not want to see during that day is any sort of problem,” said Governor Malek. “I appeal to people not to drink (too) much (and) create problems.”
“We hope that each individual will commemorate and celebrate the day as their own day,” said Northern Bahr El-Ghazal State Secretary General Kuot.
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