September 9, 2016 (JUBA) – A senior official of the South Sudan’s government said there is need to instill discipline among South Sudan army with strict application of the law, criticizing them for incidents of “rape and robbery” in the national capital, Juba.
- SPLA soldiers, from the 2nd Battalion pose at the SPLA headquarters in Nyang, in the county of Yirol East, on February 15, 2014 (Photo AFP/Fabio Bucciarelli)
Peter Bashir Gbanda, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, told the newly composed Transitional National Legislative Assembly in a briefing on the latest peace implementation and a visit of the delegation of the United Nations Security Council to Juba.
"Let us restore the SPLA to what it used to be; a very commendable and respectable liberation army during the course of our liberation struggle. I know this SPLA has a very strict orders," said Gbandi, addressing parliament this week.
He was responding to questions from Members of Parliament regarding attacks by suspected government soldiers on expats hotel in Juba. Humanitarian aid workers were raped and their belongings looted in Terrain Hotel.
A government investigation committee commissioned by President Salva Kiir in July said it has found "sufficient evidence" to continue with investigation but did not mention if some soldiers are arrested.
Gbandi said the SPLA war time doctrine of severe punishment might be reinstated.
"If you temper with even an egg [during the war], you will be shot; court martialed and shot openly," he said, referring to bush punishments against SPLA rebel soldiers between 1983-2005.
But he added the death penalty cannot be passed without legal procedures as detailed in laws of South Sudan.
"We are now a nation state and we are governed, we are members of the UN, we are governed by international conventions. We could not be doing this [shooting soldiers]," he added.
Gbanda said the policy is integrating former militia fighters into the ranks and files of the original SPLA compromised its discipline.
"And you know that the goodwill of our president by then and what was provided in the agreement was that all the militias which were being used to fight the SPLA by proxy, by Khartoum were given an option either to join the SPLA or to join SAF [Sudan Armed Forces]," he said.
"But president because he had a vision of us being united as people of South Sudan because of the referendum which was coming, he decided to initiate what you very [well] know is ‘the Juba Agreement’ – through [which] most of our militias had to be incorporated into the SPLA," he said.
He added that most the war SPLA fighters have left the army and retired to villages, explaining that government’s efforts to stem out indiscipline will include disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs as part of restoring law and order in the country.