Garang Widow Asks South Sudan Soldiers to Lay Down Arms

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.

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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