September 20, 2013 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir has accused the country’s forces of corruption, saying it had been squandering resources through dubious activities, citing ghost names on the payroll system.
- SPLA generals wait for the start of independence celebrations in Juba, South Sudan, Saturday, July 9, 2011.
Kiir, also the commander-in-chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), made the remarks in the Western Bahr el Ghazal’s capital, Wau, when he visited the area on Wednesday to witness the graduation of over 200 ex-combatants trained in various non-combat skills.
The president has also proceeded to his home state of Warrap where he is expected to hold a political rally on the visit, expected to take a number of days.
The remarks directly accusing his army of corruption were the first from the president since the country became independent in 2011.
He revealed that despite the huge budget allocated every year to the army "there are no even vehicles to transport soldiers on missions".
Four defence ministers have represented the army at the cabinet since 2005 with the latest being Kuol Manyang Juuk, who in August quit his gubernatorial job in the troubled Jonglei state.
In February last year, South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) asked the SPLA top generals to declare their income and assets, in an effort to tackle corruption.
The accounts of the army and other organised forces have not been audited since 2005 and a lot of money is believed to be unaccounted for.
Reports suggest that Juuk may introduce reforms in the army and work to reorganise the different armies. Critics say he has failed in Jonglei state to create harmony in the communities despite his reconciliation messages, adding that his reform agenda may instead polarise the national army.
However, the recent power struggle in Juba between president Kiir, his former deputy Riek Machar and the ex-ruling party secretary general Pagan Amum is expected to push Kiir and his defence minister to weigh up any decision related to the SPLA high command.
The army chief of general staff, James Hoth Mai has reportedly fallen out with Kiir on a number of issues relating to the army and the ongoing political rivalry in the country.
The senior army official recently directed the national army not to interfere in the politics of the country.
Recently, however, the defence minister issued a press statement distancing himself from any speculations that he may be behind the plan to sack Mai, saying he had not yet reported to the president on the latter’s performances.