South Sudan has cancelled celebrations marking the fifth anniversary since independence due to an ongoing civil war that has killed thousands and crippled its economy. The African nation, the world's newest country, gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after years of war.
"We decided not to celebrate the 9 July Independence Day, because we don't want to spend that much. We need to spend the little that we have on other issues," Michael Makuei, the minister of information, told reporters, according to news agency AFP.
President Salva Kiir is still expected to address the nation on 9 July, but unlike previous years, no parades or celebrations are expected to take place. The civil war, which began in 2013, has resulted in a rise of inflation and a 90% devaluation of the South Sudanese pound.
The country's economy has also been negatively impacted by the collapse of the oil industry, which accounts for 98% of government revenues.
South Sudan's descent into civil war
South Sudan descended into civil war in 2013 when Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, fired his deputy Riek Machar, from the Nuer group, and his cabinet. Ethnic-related violence then spread, with militia groups carrying out attacks in villages and areas known to be inhabited by either Dinka or Nuer tribes.
August 2015 peace deal: the key elements
- Both parties commit to immediate cessation of violence
- Machar to be reinstated as vice-president
- Foreign troops to be withdrawn
- Military personnel in Juba to be replaced by police and guards
- Creation of transitional government that will stay in power for 30 months
- Presidential elections to be held 30 days before end of transitional government mandate
- Probe into abuses committed during conflict
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More than 10,000 civilians have so far been killed in the conflict, amid allegations of crimes against humanity committed by both sides, including extra-judicial killings, abductions, rape, torture and use of child soldiers.
At least two million people have also been displaced.
Although the warring factions have signed at least seven peace deals, violence has continued, and a January report from the African Union blamed both leaders for the ongoing unrest. In the latest outbreak, at least 39 civilians and four police were killed during clashes in the town of Wau on 28 June.
Machar left Juba when the civil war erupted. His return to South Sudan and reinstatement as vice-president in April are part of a series of a peace agreement signed in August 2015.