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South Sudan army chief warns against rewarding rebels

December 2, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan army chief, Gen. Paul Malong Awan has warned against rewarding individuals who rebel against government, saying it has contributed to cycles of violence.

Former South Sudanese army chief Gen. Paul Malong Awan speaking at a Dinka Malual community meeting in Juba on 1 November, 2012 (ST)

Awan, the state-owned SSTV reported, vowed to ensure the army does not recoil from defending the legitimately-elected government.

“The responsibility and duty of any army anywhere is to defend the constitution and the country in addition to protecting civilians and their properties from harmful groups to maintain peace. This is an important duty and we will not relent,” he said.

“We must put [away] the culture of rewarding people who rebelled with positions because this is what causing the recurring conflict. Even the current peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, must not be at the expense of those who did not rebel”, added Awan.

South Sudan has, in the past years, pardoned several individuals and rebel groups who took arms against government and often absorbed them into the national army.

In May this year, government signed a peace agreement with David Yau Yau-led South Sudan Democratic Front Cobra Faction in Ethiopia, ending the rebellion in Jonglei state’s Pibor county.

Yau Yau had rebelled in 2010 after losing elections to represent Pibor county in Jonglei state’s legislative assembly, accusing the ruling SPLM party of rigging votes.

In 2011, however, he accepted a presidential amnesty, but rebelled the following year.

The agreement, which gave the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) special status, resulted into Yau Yau being appointed administrator of the GPPA under the office of the president.

Meanwhile, South Sudan’s defense minister, Kuol Manyang accused an unnamed neighbouring country of supporting armed opposition groups currently fighting the Juba establishment.

Manyang made these remarks at a military function in Jonglei where new recruits into the Eagle battalion were passed out last week.

He said government rejects any proposal for two separate armies in the transitional period.

“We are telling Riek Machar that we don’t need two separate armies in the same nation. If there is anybody wanting South Sudan to have two separate armies, this should stop,” said Manyang.

“If he [Machar] is returned to the army, we will take him at the same rank he rebelled with. If he doesn’t come by himself, we know how to bring him,” he stressed.

The minister advised the rebel leader to form a political partly and not an army, which he said would only remain under one command.

(ST)