Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 12 April 2021

Wonders never cease in South Sudan

By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

The firing and appointment of the chief of General staffs in South Sudan is another reckless procedure as far as military reshuffling is concerned.

The service lifespan for the chiefs of general staffs for the South Sudan army is always short. Regularly, there is no explanation as to why the serving chief of General staff is being fired and the other is appointed. Army and the general public are always surprised by the announcement on state television, South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC).

They are left to guess the reasons as so and so are fired and appointed. Below, is a sequence firing and appointment process of the country’s chiefs of general staffs.

At the beginning of the interim period, General Oyai Deng Ajak, was appointed chief of staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. In 2009, he was fired without explanation, the army and the general public were guessing, Oyai was sacked because Salva Kiir fell out with Lam Akol who is originating from the same ethnic group with Oyai.

General Oyai was replaced with Major General James Hoth Mai on June 1, 2009. On April 24, 2014, President Salva Kiir sacked James Hoth and replaced him with a loyalist from his own ethnic group
General Paul Malong Awan as the country’s conflict shows signs of being increasingly fought along tribal lines.

Salva thinks that James Hoth was not aggressive enough as the rebel army SPLM/A-IO was advancing in the Bentiu oil field. In 2017, Paul Malong was removed with James Ajongo Mawut who served only from May 2017 – 20 April 2018. After James Ajongo untimely demise, General Gabriel Jok Riak was appointed. General Jok served for only three years and was sacked. Kiir replaced him with General Johnson Juma Okot and President Salva Kiir replaced JJ Kot with Santino Deng Wol as the country’s Chief of Defense Forces. This comes after 11 months when JJ was appointed chief of General staff. The sequence goes as:

1. Oyai Deng Ajak, 2005-2009
2. James Hoth Mai 2009-2014
3. Paul Malong Awan, 2014-2017
4.:James Ajongo Mawut 2017-2018
5. Gabriel Jok Riak,2018-2029
6. Johnson Juma Okot 2020-2021
7. Santino Deng Wol, 2021—

The worst scenario in the firing and appointment is that no explanation is given. General Okot was on assignment when the changes were made. He was leading the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) to address recent insecurity challenges that have caused a traffic pile-up of trucks at the Nimule border with Uganda. What do you pals take in firing and appointment of South Sudan chief of General staffs?