S.SUDAN: New CDF promises ‘new’ army reforms

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Members of the SSPDF during the commemoration of the 36th SPLA Day at Bilpam on 23 May, 2019 . Joakino Francis

The new Chief of the Defense Forces has pledged to continue efforts to reform the national army, as promised by his predecessors.

Transforming the former SPLA, now SSPDF, into a professional army has been a promise made by several other Chiefs of Defense Forces.

But experts say the task has not been easy – considering the rampant corruption by top military leaders, and the level of illiteracy among the soldiers.

They say the army is still loyal to individual politicians and community leaders.

Last week, President Salva Kiir dismissed General Gabriel Jok Riak and appointed General Johnson Juma Okot as his replacement.

According to General Johnson Juma Okot, his priority area is to restructure the army to effectively defend the country.

This will include building a national army of an all-inclusive character that shall be free from tribalism and ethnic affiliations.

“When we talk about professionalism in this army, the source of our army where we came from, I would say it’s too early for us to be saying this army should become a professional army and in that the first thing is a reform,” the new army chief told his forces at the military headquarters, Bilpam on Friday.

“What do we want to reform? We came and inherited the structures that were here by the then government, even our politics is under reform that means the institution that we inherited must go under reform.”

The Strategic Defense and Security Review Board notes that the transformation of the military also involves unification, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process.

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