By Ijoo Bosco
February 14, 2014 (TORIT) – The ongoing military mobilisation and recruitment campaign in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state has attracted thousands, surpassing the initially proposed numbers of recruits, an official said on Thursday.
- Eastern Equatoria state Governor Louis Lobong Lojore speaking at the Equatoria conference in Juba, January 10, 2014 (Larco Lomayat)
Felix Otuduha Siro, the state adviser on political affairs told Sudan Tribune that up to 7,000 people have so far been recruited, yet the mobilisation campaign targeted only 5,000.
“The ongoing military mobilization and recruitments in the state counties entrusted upon them has greatly exceeded the pronounce figure by the countries vice president James Wani Igga,” he said.
Otuduha, who also chairs the Greater Torit mobilisation committee, revealed that between 70,000-80,000 people would now be recruited into the military, given the huge response from citizens.
“The state government has agreed to target up to 10,000 above the marked of 5,000 assigned to the state by the national president,” Otuduha remarked.
We are currently targeting even up to 10,000, basically because some of the new recruits might fall sick or leave the training due to some challenges in the process, he added.
The official further said the recruits, mainly comprising of former child soldiers and community members also vowed to defend South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution at all costs.
All the eight counties in the state have been involved in the mobilisation campaign, during which those targeted are given in-depth explanation on why the exercise was being done.
According to Otuduha, the high turn-out of those interested in being part of the military shows the huge support of the state population towards the current national government.
“Let hope the new recruits will be the army that will respect the constitution and the law that governor them not to be influence by politicians hungry for power,” he observed.
The official also hailed the state communities for their positive responses and urged them to stand firm in the face of unforeseen challenges likely to undermine South Sudan’s sovereignty.
REGIONAL BALANCE IN ARMY
Last month, Governors from South Sudan’s Greater Equatoria region agitated for a quota system in which people are recruited into the army and security organs from all regions to "discourage future ethnic coups, mutinies or rebellions".
The call was part of the resolution reached by the three governors of Central, Eastern and Western Equatoria states during an emergency conference organised on the current crisis in the capital, Juba.
The event, held on 10 January, also urged the country’s leaders to adopt laws to punish anyone involved in the politicisation and misuse of the army and other security organs.
“We strongly denounce the use of tribal loyalties to achieve or maintain political power that tend to foster tribal hegemony,” stipulates one of the resolutions.
The one-day conference, which brought together the three governors, also resolved to mobilise Equatorians for the protection of the territory, its people and their property.
Two months of violence in South Sudan has left an estimated 10,000 dead and displaced nearly a million in the country’s worst-ever violence outbreak since it seceded from Sudan in July 2011.