News / Africa

    South Sudan 'Tragedy' Cannot be Resolved on Battlefield: US Ambassador

    U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan, Susan Page, speaks to John Tanza at the State Department on Thursday, March 13, 2014.
    U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan, Susan Page, speaks to John Tanza at the State Department on Thursday, March 13, 2014.
    U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan Page has called on the warring sides in the world's newest nation to end three months of bloodshed in the country and resolve what she called "a real tragedy" at peace talks that take into account what the people want.

    "This is not a conflict that should or can be won through the use of force and weapons," Page told VOA in an interview conducted Thursday at the State Department in Washington.

    Unrest in South Sudan has left thousands dead, destroyed livelihoods, wiped towns off the map and eradicated "the little infrastructure that had managed to be built after 2005," when a comprehensive peace agreement was signed that ended more than 20 years of civil war in once-unified Sudan, Page said.

    The current crisis, which erupted in December, "has to be resolved through peaceful negotiations, where people can understand each other and make a way forward to bring peace back to South Sudan," Page said.


    "We reiterate there can not be a solution militarily to this conflict that is first and foremost political and where demands of people need to be heard," she said.


    Media crackdown 'no good for image of South Sudan'


    Speaking hours after a VOA journalist was detained in Juba and questioned over content critical of President Salva Kiir that aired on South Sudan in Focus last month, Page said the government of South Sudan was shooting itself in the foot by cracking down on media rights.

    "This does no good for the image of South Sudan," she said.

    "It's important they uphold their own constitution, which does guarantee free press and free speech... It does not serve the people of South Sudan well, the more they close political speech and political free space," Page told VOA.

    "It will not serve the government or the people of South Sudan well, who really just want to hear different views and different perspectives," she said.


    As the troubles go into a fourth month, the United States has put on hold a program to help reform South Sudan's security sector, the ambassador said.

    Security sector reforms in South Sudan include training programs for the army, aimed at professionalizing it, and making it disciplined and accountable to democratic civil control, according to the Centre for Security Governance think-tank.

    "Given that the government itself has acknowledged that some 60-70 percent of the army that was, of the SPLA, has either defected to the rebels or has run from the army, it does not make a lot of sense to continue support for an army that is not yet whole and while recruitment of a new national army goes on, even in the light of the cessation of hostilities agreement, which suggests they should not be recruiting new members to the armed forces -- neither side," Page said.


    The ambassador, who has been in post in Juba for just over two years, said that although the United States saw signs of the crisis that erupted in Juba on Dec. 15 and rapidly spread to the rest of the country, it would have been up to the South Sudanese themselves to take steps to prevent it from happening -- just as it is up to them to end the fighting now.

    "All we can do is offer advice, but people are not obliged to take advice, and ultimately the government has made decisions, and the people that are fighting the government have made decisions, that are out of our control," she said.

    "At the end of the day, the people of South Sudan have to want the kind of government, want the kind of society that they build themselves. If they don't want it, we cannot want it more than they do," Page said.

    You can hear an edited version of the interview by clicking on the link below, and watch the first part of the interview at the State Department.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: york from: united kingdom
    March 17, 2014 2:59 AM
    page is true on that, the solution for south sudan crisis only political solution/peacefull solution.because two sides demand is impossible that they want to obtain stablity through battlefield,which is bad to innocent peoples.
    advices to south sudan by US will not solve any.we need US to sent peaceenvoys to juba to help mediators in ethiopia to bering peace back to country.US intervention is important.
    YORK YOAL/UK

    by: Sam Dave from: USA
    March 16, 2014 3:15 AM
    USA Ambassador to S. Sudan is absolutely right about that conflict.that conflict can not be solved by military but by peace. My fellows S. Sudanese, my advice to you all is that God can't come from heaven to give you a peace. S. Sudanese will give themselves a peace. Doesn't matter what you think that Mr. Kiir or Dr. Machar is president of S . Sudan. Those people who dying for this senseless war are citizens of S. Sudan. But the leaders of S. Sudan don't care about the crisis. They're taking their own credit ability of murdering their own civilians. There is no reason that the government of S. Sudan brought up Uganda's troops on to a S. Sudan soil in December and S. Sudan's government right now chases their friends away like UN. Okay, President. It's your right to chase UN away from the country. But who will help you with IDPs in S. Sudan? Did you forget that your government signed that UN into your country? did mission that you signed the UN is over? Is it the way that you designed and decided to send UN away like that? Who cause the the problem, UN or You the President, or Riek? I know that you don't want anyone to talk about your name or government that why you want kill innocent political detainees because they are insulted you. Did all them insulted or just one person? My God bless those people who are trying to give S. Sudan a peace but the leaders of S. Sudan delete it.

    by: awaj dut from: aweil
    March 15, 2014 1:23 PM
    She is talking in gov't's name and rebels while the causative is UNMISS (Elde Johndon) plus unknown behind.
    In Response

    by: Emmanuel akolda from: Juba
    March 17, 2014 2:59 AM
    We know USA and allies are the one fueling this conflict. so let the ambassada say the truth.

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    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.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.