SPLA restructure minimizes direct confrontations

The restructure of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has minimized direct confrontation with the opposition forces in the country.

The Executive Director of Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG) Jame David Kolok said civil society organizations have seen a sign of optimism that the change of the SPLA command would create peace in the country.

Kolok was reacting to the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire President Salva Kiir Mayardit announced on Wednesday evening on South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC).

“First of all by declaring a unilateral ceasefire, I think the President has adhered to the call of not only the civil society organizations and the citizens but also the call of the regional and international community in regards to creating a conducive environment for the National Dialogue,” he said.

He lauded the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) for the initiative of restructuring the army as it has immediately changed the trend of events in the country.

“I think there are signs that the unilateral ceasefire is being respected. Of course South Sudan’s situation is polarized because it is quite unreasonable for anybody to argue that it would mean the total silence of guns,” he said. “Because after all there are some disgruntled groups of people in this country who may not be necessarily affiliated to the command of the President,” Kolok emphasized.

According to Kolok, the restructure of SPLA would bring a fresh spirit and new direction of command on the ground forces in most parts of the country as soldiers have always been accused of raping and targeting civilians – a charge that the SPLA Spokesperson and his Deputy have always denied.

“So, I believe the previous violations must have been based on haphazard command and of soldiers who probably have got more affiliations to individuals other to the army as an individual,” he said.

“What we need to do is to ensure that this command of the President of unilateral ceasefire is well directed to the commanders who are on the ground,” he added.

He said the unilateral ceasefire is a test for those who would be the first to violate.

“I think this unilateral ceasefire is brought in as a measure to find out as to who among the warring parties is hugely attached to violence. The moment the opposition forces attack first, they would look like they are anti-peace and also the moment the SPLA in government attack first, then they would look like they are anti-peace,” he said.

The FODAG Executive Director urged the new command of the SPLA to promote good relationship between the civil population and the forces all over the country.

“I think it would be appropriate as a confident building measure that some of these forces that have been accused of causing atrocities and displacement of people in Yei and Kajo-Keji are redeployed to other areas. It is the high time that the deployment plan of the army needed to be represented by diversity of the people such that there is a room for proper engagement with the people on the ground,” he said.

He appealed to the SPLA command to make a transparent court martial for those soldiers accused of human rights to face justice and trust from the citizens of this country.

“I think the general court martial needs to make the process quite transparent and show to the people that what they are executing is in the best interest of the public. That really those who have committed crimes are charged through reasonable judicial processes for purposes of accountability,” Kolok said.

He called on the armed opposition forces to equally declare a unilateral ceasefire throughout the country so that they could create an environment to join the peace process.

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