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Promotion of former rebels sparks tension in South Sudan military


December 1, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan appears to be split over the integration of former rebel groups in the young nation’s military, following president Salva Kiir’s appointment of prominent rebel leaders to senior positions last week.

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Rebel commander Johnson Olony speaks to the press upon arrival at Juba international airport on 13 June 2013 (ST)

The South Sudanese army (SPLA) is itself a former rebel group that signed a peace deal with the government of Sudan in 2005, leading to southern independence in 2011.

Following months of negotiations, Kiir appointed the leaders of several rebel groups from various locations - mainly the Greater Upper Nile region - to the regular army last week.

These included Bapiny Monytuil, who was appointed as a lieutenant general, while Johnson Uliny, along with four other colleagues, were appointed as major Generals, with Kiir ordering the full integration of their forces. In the same order issued on 25 November, Kiir also named six other brigadier generals.

In a separate order issued on 29 November, Gabriel Tanginye was appointed as a major general, Thomas Mabor Dhol as a brigadier general and Gatwec Joak as a colonel.

The move has drawn widespread opposition from within the military and the general public, with some senior officers questioning the army is serious about security sector reform.

Rebel leader David Yau Yau, who is fighting the SPLA from his base in Jonglei’s Pibor county, accepted Kiir’s amnesty and signed a deal in June 2011 that saw him promoted as a general despite being a civilian before launching his insurgency in 2010 after failing to win a seat in the Jonglei state legislative assembly.

However, Yau Yau rebelled again in April 2012, complaining that despite his title he was not given any real responsibilities. The cycle of rebellions and groups splintering from the SPLA only to be reintegrated and the leaders given senior positions predates the 2005 peace deal prior to the country’s secession from Sudan in 2011.

Nonetheless many South Sudanese do not approve of such pragmatism, with some arguing that such appointments encourage rebellions.

Sabit Marier, a member of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) - the political wing of the SPLA during the more than two-decade-long civil war - said on Sunday that the rebels had achieved nothing apart from the “killing their own people”.

He argued that rather than being rewarded with senior military posts, rebel leaders “should be held responsible for all the atrocities they committed”, adding that the president’s decision will only “encourage more rebellion”.

Marier said the recent decision also goes against Kiir’s policy of a lean government, with the integration of rebel forces set to greatly increase the size of the armed forces.

Many SPLA generals were retired earlier this year as Kiir attempted to trim the size of the military in order to save money during an oil transit fee dispute with Sudan that was crippling South Sudan’s economy.

Marier fears that increasing the size of the SPLA will affect the national budget as more will be spent on soldier’s salaries rather than providing institutions with funds to deliver services.

A senior military officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said that some soldiers have registered repeated complaints about the lack of promotions from within the army’s ranks.

“Sometimes it makes it difficult for us in the command to convince junior officers and non-commission officers because, according to the conventional system, junior officers move faster than senior officers. It takes three to four years for officers with the ranks of lieutenants and captains and about six to eight years for major and lieutenant colonels to go to the other ranks. We have groups of officers and soldiers waiting commissioning and promotions”, he said.

Another officer said that although Kiir, as the SPLA’s commander-in-chief, was acting within his powers and mandate to promote peace and defend the country’s sovereignty and security, he felt that there could have been a better balance of promotions from within the SPLA and the ranks of former rebels.

“Current ranks are seen as source of money instead of the value of service to the country. I tell you that most of the current commanders cannot run a company when given [an] assignment. Some of them desert assignments during operations, pretending that they are sick”, an officer who did not want to be identified told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

“So why not commission long-serving, non-commission officers and young officers who have demonstrated ability?” he added.


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  • 2 December 2013 06:54, by dude

    Mafuckgurdiit better do it or else we will finish him. He is a dying horse waiting to be falling in a hole.

    repondre message

    • 2 December 2013 07:11, by Chol A.

      who ever, try another rebel will assumed the risk. because this is last amnesty and intergration to whoever accepted it now. most you dude,Naath, midiit and another you better advice your brothers, uncle and cousin that there will be no more pardon given to you by Kiir and SPLA please.
      we are fat up by Nuer attituded of Nyagat and being compansated by rank it so akward and shame to you people.

      repondre message

      • 2 December 2013 08:29, by Wicdail

        Chol A,
        Looting the nation’s resources in their billion of $dollars by your tribal man (Kiir) and his thugs including you, while we respond these ugly system by taking arms to correct this culture (corruption)of you; which one is shameful? You called a compensation because you knew that it’s the only way to survive for your corrupts president. Kiir and his associate must go before 2015.

        repondre message

        • 2 December 2013 13:11, by Chol A.

          @Wacidail good luck to continue doing that to correction systems if you think being militia way of correct things and not corruption than I would like to let you know that enought it enought and I realize you people have no shame about word militia. Kiir with his tribe can do the stupid attitude you people do by give up president and being militia to whoever in power, can we develop our country?

          repondre message

      • 2 December 2013 16:34, by Naath

        Chol A, I told you many times that kiir is the hopeless and very confuse leader who have no leadership understanding and quality,if you can tell me sir,what make kiir to act like that giving highest ranking to those new comers while some people still in lower rank since struggle,do you think your uncle have brain hell no.kiir will not get any a chance because of this stupidity move good luck

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  • 2 December 2013 07:10, by Son of Ngundeng

    Olony become general, without any little education caring empty mind, only he have an experience of catching fish in Malakal. Shame on you Hopples Kiir!! like this you support all the young generation to rebel against this country.

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  • 2 December 2013 08:13, by Agutthon

    Mr. Kiir has to change coarse on amnesties and reinterpretations. His appeasement actions have deprived the aspiring young army officers of deserved promotions. The Bapinys and Olinys are prodigal sons who killed citizens for promotions.

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  • 2 December 2013 08:49, by Marco Bul

    I prophesied this last time.Kiir is encouraging rebellion indirectly.It is easy to find fault with Dinka Bor while Nuer are worship.

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  • 2 December 2013 12:00, by Deng Amos Achol Madol

    Is a why?!!!!. Is a why?!!!!!. Rebillion, Graduation, Promotion. No problem, ecept our young Offiers who have been waiting for promotion for a long time. NOTHING!!!!.

    repondre message

  • 2 December 2013 14:03, by chol

    Give Nuer food he will do anything for you and that a shame.Greedy tribe should be their name instead.
    Chol Y

    repondre message

  • 3 December 2013 07:46, by daniell

    Issueing international amnesty for long period of time and promoting those who have complied with international amnesty as well is inconvincingable to the public and national army.However,Kiir has made a unified right choice because these people are revolting to be served not to serve.

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