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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora