By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has directed the newly appointed army chief to reorganize the soldiers in order to halt desertions in the military training camps in the East Africa’s youngest nation.
President Kiir appointed Gen. Santino Deng Wol on Saturday to replaced Johnson Juma Okot as the new chief of defense forces.
Gen. Okot was replaced within a year after taking over from former Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak.
Gen. Deng, who was the former South Sudan People Defense Force (SSPDF) deputy chief of defense forces for administration and finance took oath of office on Monday in Juba.
In his remarks, the President and the commander in chief, Kiir instructed General Deng to reorganize the deserted forces.
“You have been brought into this position, and this is a big position among all your peers, because if there are no security forces, there is no security, no army, then there is no nation. You Santino you need to find out what is scattering the soldiers,” President Kiir told the new army chief. “Find it out. You people bring me a big parade and demand money, this is greed for money.”
According to the 2018 peace deal, the peace parties are supposed to unify their forces under one command and transform it into a national army.
There have been several reports that soldiers are leaving the cantonment sites due to a lack of food, medication and shelter.
The report also said that soldiers are surviving on mangoes after Juba failed to give them food supplies.
In most of the cantonments, there are no vehicles to transport sick soldiers to nearby health facilities.
It’s been two years since the soldiers were assembled at training camps across the country.
Their graduation has been postponed severally due to what the government described as a lack of funds.
Several soldiers had reportedly died while in the training and cantonment camps in Rajaf, Mundri, and other places.
Observers believe the delay to unify and graduate the forces has forced some SSPDF, and ex – rebel soldiers to desert the cantonment sites across the country..
However, the UN have raised concerns that these soldiers could cause insecurity in villages and along the major highways.
Of recently, more than 10 people including foreigners were ambushed, killed and three trucks were set ablaze along major highways in South Sudan.
According to UN, the country’s 2018 peace process remains fragile, despite the parties having registered some positive progress since the formation of the revitalized transitional government of national unity in February 2020.