January 11, 2013 (JUBA) – The South Sudan Army (SPLA) chief of staff has instructed members of armed forces to live up to their constitutional obligation to defend and protect the young nation’s territorial integrity at all cost.
- SPLA soldiers march during a parade at the fourth anniversary celebration of the signing of the CPA in the southern town of Malakal January 9, 2009. (Reuters)
General James Hoth Mai made these remarks on Thursday while speaking at a parade of 400 new recruits, who completed an intensive training at New Cush in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state.
Different military tactics, including how to position, launch ground attack, rollover, spread assault, detecting and disarming land and anti personnel mines planted in the battle fields, were covered during these weeks of training.
The high-ranking military officer, in a statement on South Sudan Television (SSTV), strongly the army should strive to ensure we “liberate ourselves and minds from mental slavery”.
"The mission of the SPLA as a national army is very clear. Our mission as an army is the same with the mission of any army everywhere in the world. Our duty is to defend territorial integrity of the country, its people and their properties," said the army chief.
He added, "You have done this in April in Panthou [Heglig], Kiir Adem, Jau and elsewhere along the border with Sudan. Our people are now proud of you. They know you are able to defend this country, their lives and properties".
General Hoth, in his address, also expressed confidence in the army commander-in-chief, Salva Kiir, whom he described as a leader who never accepts any dialogue, which dictates what his government should do.
He however advised the new recruits not to engage in activities that reduce their physical fitness and weaken them as soldiers.
"You must avoid things which reduce your strength. A soldier must be seen [as] fit and healthy. Avoid drinking [alcohol] and engaging in any unproductive activities. Look for good things, those that will encourage growth and strength of your muscles," emphasized the army chief.
Majak D’ Agoot, the country’s deputy defence minister, who spoke at the same function informed the new recruits how much "hope and trust" members of the public and the country’s leadership have in the SPLA.
"Our people and the government have a confidence in you. They trust you", D’Agoot told the recruits at a function, also attended by other high-ranking military officers.
Last week, South Sudan President, Salva Kiir made similar calls, after he reportedly instructed his security officials to prepare to defend the country from aggression from neighbouring Sudan, moments before he left for the African Union-mediated president summit with his Sudanese counterpart, Omer Al-bashir in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
"We will keep talking with Sudan and we will also have the right to protect our territories. The SPLA will do this. It is your duty", Kiir told the high-level security officers on Friday.
The South Sudan leader also called on the country’s citizens to mobilise against the ground and air attacks allegedly carried out by the Sudanese army (SAF) on strategic border territories of Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal states, in recent weeks.
However, the Sudan has repeatedly denied these accusations, often blaming such incidences on tribal clashes or its attack on Sudanese rebels allegedly within South Sudan territories.