National News

Civil society welcomes renaming the army

Edmund Yakani, Executive Director CEPO

By Jale Richard

Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), a Civil Society in South Sudan, has welcomed the move by President Kiir to rename the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) to South Sudan Defense Force (SSDF) in a series of decrees passed on Monday.

“It is an impressive move by our President, because we have called for the change of the name of our army, from a liberation army into a national army,” Edmund Yakani the Executive Director of CEPO said. “It was a long awaited action, we have been calling for this, since 2011 just when we got our independence,” Yakani added.

Yakani said the name SSDF speaks for a national army rather than a liberation army.

He observed that, the move would also help improve the image of the army, which has been damaged by indiscipline acts of some soldiers.

However, Yakani emphasized that, after changing the name of the army, the president should now engage in improving the discipline of the army. “It is a priority now, after changing the name and restructuring the army, the discipline of the army should be institutionalized,” he said.

According to Yakani, the army should only deal with issues of defense of the country like foreign aggression, but not engage in policing, a job that is supposed to be done by the South Sudan police service.

“For example if there is any tension between the civilians and the government, the military should not intervene, but rather the police should, because they are the right forces to engage with the civilians,” he said.

The activist said, the presence of the military on the streets intimidates the people instead of providing a sense of security to the public.

He noted that, the army should also stop launching military roadblocks to improve on its discipline.

Yakani said soldiers who defect from rebel factions should not directly be incorporated in to the army, but they should undergo orientation and later be integrated into either the police, fire brigade, wild life or they should be disarmed in to civilian life.

“Let them be oriented to become law enforcers rather than be integrated into the army straight away, Yakani stressed.

The Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the South Sudan (ARCISS) signed in August 2015 recommended the renaming of the national army. The changes are also based on the resolutions of the 5th SPLA Command Council conference held last year.

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