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Garang Widow Asks South Sudan Soldiers to Lay Down Arms


Rebecca Nyandeng, the widow of late former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement leader John Garang, addresses mourners during his funeral service in Juba, South Sudan, Aug. 6, 2005.

The widow of South Sudan liberation hero John Garang is calling on government soldiers to forsake President Salva Kiir.

Rebecca Nyandeng told VOA's South Sudan in Focus the country's internal conflict benefits mainly the president, who she said is amassing wealth while soldiers go without paychecks.

“I am appealing to soldiers of the SPLA not to fight one another, to come back for peace, and leave this senseless war for President Salva,” Nyandeng said Monday.

The SPLA, which fought for South Sudan's independence from Sudan, split into pro and anti-government factions at the start of the war in December 2013.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir attends a ceremony marking the 34th anniversary of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in the capital Juba, South Sudan Thursday, May 18, 2017.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir attends a ceremony marking the 34th anniversary of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in the capital Juba, South Sudan Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Nyandeng said if government solders put down their arms, Salva Kiir “will not be able to stay in power.”

According to the United Nations, more than 1.8 million South Sudanese have fled the country since fighting broke out in late 2013. Another 1.9 million are internally displaced from their homes.

Earlier this month, a U.N. report said South Sudanese pro-government forces killed at least 114 civilians between July 2016 and January 2017 in Yei town.

The Human Rights Division of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan said the crimes, including indiscriminate shelling of civilians, targeted killings and burning of civilian property “may amount to war crimes.”

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the  South Sudan In Focus radio program.
     
    Before joining VOA, John worked in Nairobi, Kenya where he established the first independent radio station (Sudan Radio Service) for the people of Sudan. He has covered several civil wars both in Sudan and South Sudan and has been engaged in the production of civic education materials for creating awareness about post conflict issues facing Sudanese and South Sudanese. John has interviewed South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former Vice President Riek Machar, Vice President Wani Igga, leader of Sudan’s Umma Party Sadiq Al Mahdi in addition to other senior United Nations and U.S government officials in South Sudan and Washington. His travels have taken him across to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, DRC Congo and parts East Africa where he reported on the South Sudanese diaspora and the challenges facing them.
     
    A South Sudanese national, John enjoys listening to music from all over the world, reads academic books, watches documentaries and listens to various radio stations on the internet.  You can follow John on Twitter at @Abusukon

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