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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid