January 24, 2019 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s President and commander in chief of the armed forces Salva Kiir has denounced the corrupt military leader and accused them of stealing the food of his troops.
The President made his remarks on Thursday in a speech at the award ceremony organized at the army headquarters in Juba on the honour of the former military leadership of the SPLA in recognition of their heroic role and sacrifices during the liberation struggle.
The awardees were Vice President James Wani Igga, Presidential Advisor for Military affairs Gen. Daniel Awet Akot, Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nhial Deng Nhial, Governor of Fangak State Gen. John Kong Nyuon and the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak.
Kiir told the audience he noticed during the parades that the soldiers were not in a good shape and physically weak despite the big allowances for army food and clothing, stressing that he was “not happy” with the army command.
“I observed that the health of the soldiers is really bad,” he said before to stress that “If the health of the soldiers is not good, it’s because you are not feeding them well”.
The President went further to say that the food finds its way to the market instead of being used to feed the soldier, tacitly accusing the military commanders of corruption.
“Starting from Gen. Jok and going down to all commanders of the units, I’m not happy with all of you. I had to say that.”
The President vowed to discuss the matter with his cabinet and the parliament to set out a radical solution for this issue and to ensure that the soldiers are well treated.
Also, the raised the issues of fictitious payrolls, pointing out that the military leadership did not provide him with the exact number of troops but they speak always about divisions.
“They just say there are divisions and you find that the actual number of soldiers in one division is 100. But they demand salaries for 15,000 soldiers in one division, but this money actually goes to individuals,” he said.
The reorganization of the former guerrilla army into a professional army was one of the tasks that the international community had started to deal with in term of training and structures.
However, the process was stopped by the eruption of the five-year war in the country two years after the independence.
President Kiir recalled that the national army should stick to its constitutional mandate of protecting the national integrity but also protect civilians and their properties.
The country which will launch soon the merger of the government forces and rebel fighters to form a national army. The process is seen as crucial for the implementation of the revitalized peace pact.
Different international reports point to war crimes and atrocities committed by the government troops against civilians from December 2013 to September 2018 and even after the signing of the revitalized peace agreement.