April 15, 2014 (JUBA) – The army in South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal state on Monday vowed to promote and strengthen cooperation for peaceful coexistence among the population, citing its role as an institution set up to protect lives and properties.
- SPLA soldiers drive in a truck in Juba December 21, 2013 (REUTERS/Stringer)
The move is viewed as part of efforts by the leadership of the army to regain the trust and confidence in the wake of wide spread criticisms arising from what is largely regarded as its poor working relationship with the general public.
The military, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, said a peaceful procession was staged from Griniti, its headquarters located west of Wau, the Western Bahr el Ghazal capital, through the main market to the state’s general secretariat.
Maj. Gen. Manyok Barac, the SPLA 5th division commander in the area, said the army was out to demonstrate its willingness to participate in activities seeking to promote peace and tranquility.
“The procession was friendly and peaceful. The main message we wanted to pass was to our people and the government that the army is part and parcel of the people. It was also to demonstrate the magnitude of sport activities and cultural solidarity as a means of promoting immovability among our soldiers,” said Gen. Barac.
Also part of the march, he observed, were young girls and boys who were not part of the army, but had only shown interest in sport activities within his division.
As of 2013, the SPLA was reportedly organised into a 210,000-person strong army comprising 90 light infantry divisions and a small air force. At this time, however, South Sudan government was reportedly planning to reduce the size of its military.