September 22, 2013 (WAU) - South Sudan defense minister Kuol Manyang has vowed to build a strong national army, less than a week after President Salva Kiir accused the military of widespread corruption.
- South Sudan defense minister Kuol Manyang September 4, 2010 (ST)
The revelation by Kiir, also commander in chief of national army (SPLA), partly underlines the lost trust and confidence he has in the military, which takes nearly half of the national budget allocation.
But while speaking at Sunday’s military parade in Western Bahr el Ghazal state, the newly appointed defense minister called for absolute loyalty among the forces.
He urged them to sharpen their fighting capacity, abide by disciplines and keep good relations with the country’s citizens.
“I came to hear from you what [challenges] are facing you. I did not want to hear from anybody else or from the report but directly from you. I want you to talk; say what you think would improve the services SPLA provides to this country," Manyang told members of the forces.
"We want the army to be at full military readiness to ensure victories in any military engagements," he added.
The defense minister further stressed that it was the strategic vision of the government to build a strong and professional force in the region.
"I also need to tell you frankly that the army, anywhere in the world, can only avoid wars when it is capable of winning them", he remarked.
The safety of South Sudanese, their resources and strategic areas, he stressed, is the responsibility of the national army.
He however appealed to members of the SPLA to quickly adapt to this new situation in the country and duly fulfill their obligations to the nation as required.
Also in plan, the minister said, was to ensure all soldiers who died while in active service get paid until arrangements that separates them from the army are put in place.
“I want to let you know from now that soldiers who died on active service will continue to be paid. The practice that stops paying them after six months of the death has no basis. This payment will continue to be received by the family. Did you hear? If there is anybody who stops it, then come to me, I will deal with those who will stop. There is no basis to stop”, he said.
Two years since its independence, South Sudan is yet to transform its military into a modern and professional army.
Both domestic and international human rights bodies have, in recent months, accused the SPLA of gross human rights violations against civilians, an allegation it denies.