July 17, 2015(Nyamilepedia) – Joseph Bakosoro who is governor of Western Equatoria state has blasted the South Sudan Army of being unprofessional and “losing direction”, in the first open criticism of the army by a senior government official.
Bakosoro accused the army which is dominated by supporters of Salva Kiir from Bahr El Ghazal region of being part of the current insecurity and chaos that has engulfed the young nation including his state of Western Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal is believed to now make up 80% of the Army.
The outspoken governor called on the government to instead invest more on the police rather than on the army which he described as being indiscipline and unprofessional.
The army under President Salva Kiir has been accused of involvement in several incident which involved the army fighting civilians using full combat equipment including Machine gun, Grenade explosives and Tanks, this has raised eyebrows and concerns amongst citizens, politicians and also foreign observers on how a national army would be using excessive force to deal with local situations which is suppose to be handled by the Police and civilian law enforcement agencies.
Governor Bakosoro has called on the police to take a more active and greater role in maintaining law and order and protecting civilians, arguing it was not the armies job to maintain law and order as it’s the police duty according to the constitution.
The army has been accused of causing insecurity in Western Equatoria state and also killing several civilians including a commissioner in Mundri and also in Maridi areas of the state.
The constitution tasks the army with protecting the country against foreign threats and other internal threats that can be considered a national security threat.
The governor made the remarks after returning to the state capital Yambio from Juba where Salva Kiir held an emergency meeting with all state governors on the increasing insecurity situation across South Sudan.
“The army have lost direction, in all the states you find that the army attack civilians, the civilians attack army and so on, in all the states. The police who are supposed to keep the rule of law have no arms and have no power in all the states.” Governor Bakosoro told reporters in Yambio.
He added that insecurity around the country was made worst by lack of a strong police, army indiscipline, proliferation of firearms, unprofessional army, youth unemployment, food insecurity, poor roads, and a crippled judiciary system.
Bakosoro said the collapsing economy and the poor living standards of the people is forcing many including soldiers to resort to criminal activities to make ends meet.
“The inflation has made people now take arms and loot so they can eat. That is another problem. So all these blocking of the roads and looting of the vehicles is because people have not enough food to eat. So that is how some go to look for food.”
The governor concluded by saying what the happening today is not what the people had fought for during the liberation struggle, instead people were looking for a better life and the army is supposed to be a discipline army.
“the army they are only …suppose… to fight (external war) … but it seems there is not much discipline now in most of our soldiers and we have lost the vision which we were coming with from liberation.”
South Sudan has been hit by increased insecurity and violence ever since the start of fighting in December 2013 which started as a political disagreement between the President Salva Kiir and his Deputy Dr. Riek Machar and later turned into a full blown civil war after Presidential guards mostly from Kiir’s dinka tribe massacred thousands of Nuer civilians in the Capital Juba.
Transformation of SPLA into a professional army based on regional balance is one of the contentious issues at the current peace talks aimed at ending the current civil war with rebels calling for a new structure and command for a new national army.
The Bahr El Ghazal region were Salva Kiir comes from currently makes up 80% of the army and security raising concerns about Kiir’s commitment to creating regional balance within the country’s security system.
Observers warn South Sudan could be descending into lawlessness as government has lost capacity to protect it’s citizens or maintain law and order, meanwhile the the country’s economy faces an imminent collapse.