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.
    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

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.