8th July 2016 was perhaps the darkest day in the 4-year internal conflict that has rocked neighboring South Sudan.
The gunfire between the elite guards of President Salva Kiir and those of then First Vice President Riek Machar claimed (officially) 300 lives.
The two rival leaders all the while were meeting inside the palace also known as J1. The death toll has been put at bigger figures by other sources.
Top government officials that included internal affairs and defense ministers were also convening at the palace to defuse escalating tensions between the two armies (SPLA-IG and SPLA-IO) with parallel command structures.
Bodyguards of the two principals started fighting at the gate and in a matter of minutes; the whole palace was under fire.
The next morning on 9th July 2016, Juba Teaching Hospital was flooded with dead bodies in uniforms. Walls at J1 were full of bullet holes.
One month later, ChimpReports broke the story that Machar’s son, Gadwang Machar has been killed in the same clash.
His death had been secretly kept and we also later learned that Kiir and Machar lost a nephew and brother respectively.
Machar fled Juba days later and eventually the Transitional Government of National Unity that had been in place for only 3 months, collapsed.
The unity government was a result of peace agreement between the SPLA in government and those in opposition signed in August 2015.
The conflict resumed in full scale and one year later, Kiir and Machar who is in South Africa, are yet to meet face to face.
Our efforts to get comments from both sides as the country remembers the sad day were futile as they didn’t reply our messages and email.
The SPLA-IG Spokesman, Brig. Lul Ruai Koang who is out of the country referred us to his deputy Col. Santo Domic Chol who is yet to respond to our email. Meanwhile SPLA-IO publicity, Mabior Garang de Mabior is also yet to respond to our message sent on Friday.