September 6, 2013 (JUBA) – The new minister of defence and veterans affairs in South Sudan, Kuol Manyang Juuk, told the army at the general headquarters that he would introduce reforms to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and provide them with better services.
- President Salva Kiir (R) in Bor with new defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk (L) when he was Jonglei state governor, during the signing of Jonglei communities peace accord, May 5, 2012 (ST)
Juuk, whose remarks were broadcast on the state-run SSTV on Friday, said he would work to improve the salary of the soldiers.
The new defence minister had been serving as governor of the most troubled state in South Sudan, Jonglei, where rebels of David Yau Yau have been battling the army for a number of years.
While a governor, Juuk was appreciated for working hard to weed out ghost names in the state of Jonglei, although critics said he had also failed to create harmony among various communities in the state as the state remains in turmoil.
There are widespread fears that president Salva Kiir, also the commander-in-chief of the army, recently fell out with the chief of general staff, James Hoth Mai on a number of issues seen politically motivated.
While Mai wants the army to remain neutral on the current political power wrangling in the country, Kiir reportedly sought a guaranteed support from the army in case he takes any actions against his rivals in government and those within the party.
The ruling party political bureau, sources told Sudan Tribune, is likely to convene its meeting soon, which may result into tough measures being taken against some individuals who have been critical of Kiir’s leadership.
The South Sudan leader recently threatened to dissolve the parliament unless lawmakers supported his decision to appoint James Wani Igga, the country’s new vice president.
Disagreements between the president and his army chief reportedly started when the former deployed a seemingly private force at Luri Bridge on the road to Mundri without Mai’s knowledge.
Various anonymous sources told Sudan Tribune that the chief of staff is strongly opposed to the interference of any security forces in the democratic political struggle, clearly stating to the authority a message of strong opposition to any action, which seems to get rid of the officers that are opposed to army involvement.