Friday, May 12, 2017

South Sudan’s new army chief seeks funds for peace process

In this file photo of Thursday, July 9, 2015

In this file photo of Thursday, July 9, 2015 shows, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, left, accompanied by Former army chief of staff Paul Malong, (right), waves during an independence day ceremony in the capital Juba, South Sudan. PHOTO | FILE 

The newly appointed South Sudanese army (SPLA) Chief of General Staff Gen. James Ajongo, who replaced the controversial Gen. Paul Malong, on Wednesday urged the international community and region to avail financial support for peace implementation.

“I think those who negotiated the agreement know very well that you cannot implement this agreement without having funds. But these people decided to sit back.

They are not actually willing to support the government of South Sudan to implement key areas within the agreement,” Ajongo said in Juba. Ajongo, a veteran of the 1983 liberation war, called for calm amid public anxiety gripping Juba following the sacking of Malong but conceded that the task ahead was difficult of ending the more than three years of conflict that has caused huge humanitarian suffering and refugee crises in the region. “I know it’s a difficult task given the fact that the country is in conflict by itself,” he said.

Malong, who was sacked by President Salva Kiir on Tuesday evening, has since retreated to his home area of Aweil, northwest of the capital despite officials describing the change as normal within the top brass of the army.

The new army chief, a calmer figure than his predecessor, inherits the SPLA at a critical time when the image of the force has been tainted with allegations of mass civilian killings, rape, theft and plunder of public resources and properties.The South Sudanese army is currently engaged in fighting rebels allied to former first vice president Riek Machar since December 2013 and further more militia groups have sprung up following renewed clash in July 2016 between the SPLA and SPLA-in opposition rebels.

Meanwhile, President Kiir spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny moved to quash any speculation and anxiety surrounding the sacking of Malong who had not until been revered for being a ruthless battle general and the king maker behind the throne. “It has been a subject of speculation that the change was extraordinary but the change was routine because the position of chief of general staff is a prerogative of the commander-in-chief,” Ateny said.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Kiir and his former deputy Machar led to fighting that pitied mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing the rebel leader Machar to flee into exile. (Xinhua)