By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has threatened to discharge corrupt military commanders from service as the soldiers in South Sudan are hungry and unhealthy because their superiors are larceny food to sell on local market.
After two years of gained independence in 2011, South Sudan military has been embroiled in another civil war for last five years since President Kiir split with his longest former vice president Riek Machar. Tens of thousands have reported died and millions of people fled their habitual homes.
President Kiir, the commander – in – chief of the South Sudan People Defense Forces (SSPDF), formerly known as Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA), made remarks during the decoration ceremony of the members of the former SPLM/A political – military high command at the military headquarters in Juba on Thursday.
President Kiir blamed army generals for not stopping the diversion of state-provided food, saying they are mistreating soldiers, as he described South Sudan soldiers as physically weak because their superiors or leaders, do not feed them well.
“When I went to the parade, I saw the health of the soldiers is really bad. If the health of the soldiers is not good, [then] it is because you are not feeding them well,” Kiir told the military commanders.
Kiir also said most of the military leaders are not servicing the nation as it supposes. He said there is no need to keep people in uniform who do not go and fight, who do not do anything in the army.
“You cannot remain in the army just because you are strong, because you take people’s money, because you take military food supplies,” President Kiir said on Thursday in Juba, at the military headquarters.
“The blame goes to the commanders. Starting from General Jok [army chief] and going down to all commanders of the units, I’m not happy with all of you and I have say it…..we do bring food but when they get to your stores, you take it to the market,” President Kiir as thrilled soldiers clap their hands.
“There are so many South Sudanese coming [up], I will then lay you off all and I will bring in a new people,” Kiir warns his military commanders.
According to Chapter two (2) of the revitalized peace agreement, all forces shall be screened and classified according to known military criteria followed for the purposes of recruitment for the army, police, national security and other services. It says unqualified individuals shall be referred to the South Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation Commission.
However, President Kiir further says that he will ensure that the soldiers get a pay rise.
South Sudan soldiers are less paid in Africa continent, if not the worldwide. The salary of private soldier is less than $10 per a money.
“I’m going to the ministry of cabinet affairs to fight for the issue of the money of soldiers. I will also go to the speaker of the parliament and do the same,” Kiir said.
President Kiir urged the army to be vigilant and stick to their constitutional mandate of protecting the national integrity and work for the development of the nation.
Kiir also called on South Sudanese to keep the spirit of unity and advised the organized forces to protect civilians and their properties.
There was no immediate response from military leaders but the soldiers are expressing the president Kiir for challenge their superiors.
Despite a Khartoum – backing revitalized peace deal signed last year in September 12 by President Kiir’s administrations and rebel groups, the world youngest nation remains fragmented with ethnic grievances and besieged with weapons. The implementation of peace deal is too slow due to lack of money.
The members of the former SPLM/SPLA High Command who received medals and ribbons from the president are Vice president Dr. James Wani Igga, presidential adviser on military affairs Daniel Awet Akot, Minister of Defense Kuol Manyang Juuk, Governor of Fangak State John Kong Nyuon and Minister of foreign Affairs Nhial Deng Nhial, honor their heroic roles and sacrifces during the country’s long walk to freedom. The Chief of defense forces of the SSPDF, Gen. Jok Riak was also decorated.