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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

South Sudan army vowes to protect national sovereignty

By Ngor Arol Garang

July 9, 2011 (JUBA)- South Sudan’s military – former rebel movement turned national army the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – marked the region’s passage into statehood by vowing to defend the new country’s territorial sovereignty against any foreign aggression.

SPLA generals wait for the start of independence celebrations in Juba, South Sudan, Saturday, July 9, 2011. (AP)
SPLA generals wait for the start of independence celebrations in Juba, South Sudan, Saturday, July 9, 2011. (AP)
James Hoth Mai, Chief of General Staff of the SPLA said Saturday that independence would bring new challenges to the southern military, including providing adequate security to the citizens and their properties.

The ill-defined border between North and South Sudan has not been fully demarcated despite the South officially becoming independent on July 9. Fighting in the contested region of Abyei and the northern state of South Kordofan, which is home to many soldiers who fought with SPLA during the civil war has raised fears that the two country’s could return to war.

However, at South Sudan’s independence ceremony in Juba on Saturday the leaders of the two countries said they would endeavour to form brotherly relations. South Sudan’s first president Salva Kiir said he would work with his counter part Omar Hassan Al-Bashir to achieve peace in all region’s of Sudan.

Mai said on Saturday that SPLA soldiers would not be able to go on leave until after the new South Sudan government was formed.

“We do not have plan to give long to leave of members of our forces now because we are in a critical moment. This is the time during which all military are required in their respected places of assignment. No one would be allowed to take a leave until arrangements to establish new nation are complete”, the SPLA Chief of General Staff said.

A SPLA Brig. Gen. , back left, celebrates as he and others wait for the start of independence celebrations in Juba, South Sudan, Saturday, July 9, 2011. (AP)
A SPLA Brig. Gen. , back left, celebrates as he and others wait for the start of independence celebrations in Juba, South Sudan, Saturday, July 9, 2011. (AP)
The general said he was lost for words to describe who he felt about South Sudan’s partition from the North.

”I am very excited. I do not actually know [what] to tell you, for this is what all our great grand fathers and mother had sacrificed their lives.”

“I will now be happy for rest of my life because the dream and mission for which lives of prominent figures have been sacrificed for this day”, he added.

General Anthony Bol Madut, a former high ranking SPLA commander who is now a politician, said he is happy that the peace and freedom for which he rebelled twice against successive Khartoum based central governments in the North had finally been achieved.

“I am happy that the peace and freedom for which I was always among the first to rebel against the central government in the North has been achieved. It has been a long journey to reach here although it has claimed a lot of lives and left many of us testimonies”, said General Madut showing the press scar of the gun shot while fighting as rebel commander.

“How many reasons to be happy because demand of our people which has many lives has been found, this is very important in our history because all my fellow South Sudanese who perished during the war of struggle are finally being paid off. Their sacrifice for this new baby nation (South Sudan) is being fulfilled in our very eyes today. I am very proud of their bravery and contribution to this great cause”, he said.

The member of the South Sudan’s ruling party argued that people were celebrating so rigorously because people had died for independence.

“This day did not as gift. It became because CPA was signed due to the great price paid by our people,” he said.

(ST)