News / Africa

In Midst of Conflict, South Sudan Marks Birth of its Army

Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers patrol a road in Mathiang near Bor, Jan. 31, 2014. Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers patrol a road in Mathiang near Bor, Jan. 31, 2014.
x
Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers patrol a road in Mathiang near Bor, Jan. 31, 2014.
Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers patrol a road in Mathiang near Bor, Jan. 31, 2014.
Philip Aleu
Amidst a five-month-old conflict and a growing humanitarian crisis, South Sudan marked the 31st anniversary on Friday of the day in 1983 when soldiers fired the first gunshots in the two-decade war with Khartoum.

The soldiers who fired those shots in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, on May 16, 1983 formed the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which became the national army of South Sudan when the country celebrated independence less than three years ago. 

But SPLA soldiers have never served in a true peacetime army. The country has been wracked by simmering rebellions, disputes with the north that sometimes turned violent, and, most recently, a domestic conflict that has claimed thousands of lives since December and pushed the country to the edge of a humanitarian disaster.


Learn lessons from SPLA's fight for freedom


Speaking during celebrations to mark the SPLA anniversary, President Salva Kiir urged South Sudanese to learn lessons from the SPLA's fight for freedom and amicably resolve differences that have led to the current war, which began as a political row between the president and his opponents in an SPLA off-shoot, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) party.

“Many lives were lost as the result of noble struggle but within the course of struggle itself, unjustifiable losses occurred many times among South Sudanese themselves because of a brother fighting another brother," he said.

He called on South Sudanese not to lose sight of the promise of the young country and urged civilians who have fled their homes to return and resume their livelihoods. He vowed to protect all of them.

"I have a moral obligation to make sure that all the people in South Sudan are saved and to make sure that all the people in South Sudan are united," he said. 

"And because of this, I will have to call again on my brothers and sisters who are in the UNMISS camps to come out and join their own brothers and sisters and stay in their own houses,” he said, referring to some 80,000 people who are sheltering at compounds and bases of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan -- some of th
I have a moral obligation to make sure that all the people in South Sudan are saved and to make sure that all the people in South Sudan are united.
em since December.

Many South Sudanese have said they do not feel the situation in the country is safe enough to allow them to return home, even though Kiir and Machar signed a new cessation of hostilities deal a week ago.

The United Nations and aid agencies have accused both the SPLA and opposition fighters of committing atrocities against civilians.

In his speech, Mr. Kiir said he would "not accept" that any government soldier should "take the law into his or her own hands to kill other citizens in the name that he or she is supporting me...'

"He is not supporting me and I will not accept that," he said.

The president has set up a committee to investigate allegations of the killing of civilians by SPLA and rebel soldiers. On Friday, Mr. Kiir said the committee "has to see into it that all these people who committed these crimes must be punished."

"If you have killed a person, you must be punished with death also,” he said, adding that if atrocities go unpunished, South Sudan will not move forward.

Mr. Kiir called on forces on both sides of the on-going conflict to stop revenge killings, which only serve to prolong the conflict. He reiterated his readiness to respect the peace deal he and Machar signed last week in Addis Ababa. The recent agreement was violated within days, with both sides blaming the other.

You May Like

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: bol from: Bor
May 17, 2014 5:37 PM
SPLA Oyee, SPLM Oyee.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid