The Spokesperson of Sudan’s People Liberation Army-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO), Col. Lam Paul, rubbished reports of a split within the forces where some officers are against the deployment with sticks, as had been declared by the government.
Lam, who spoke to The City Review in an exclusive interview on Sunday, gave an assurance that the Unified Forces are “ready to be deployed since they are under one command and control.”
“The unified forces are under command and control. They cannot say they are not going to be deployed. Any soldier has to work under command, including me,” Lam said as he debunked reports claiming that opposition forces were planning to boycott deployments with sticks. According to Col. Lam, the unified forces cannot shun the deployment because they are under one command.
He said any soldier willing to boycott being deployed would be against the code of conduct of the army stipulated in the constitution of South Sudan.
“He (a soldier) cannot say that I am not going to be deployed. It would not be [in line with the] code of conduct of the army. Any soldier who is legally registered knows that all soldiers took an oath during the graduation ceremony in front of the president; now who are you to say no?” he posed.
Lam said that unlike civil servants who can have a different way of rejecting some decisions, the army being part of the disciplined force is bound by the oath and must respect the command structure, particularly, an order from the commander-in-chief.
Lam stressed that soldiers who would skip calls to go back to their training centres would have acted “entirely on their choice.”
“If you refuse to come back to the 20 centres of the training, that is up to you. You cannot refuse to be deployed; we can still call you, and if you are not at the training centres in the areas, it is up to you,” he said.
A local media outlet had reported that some SPLA-IO forces were against the idea of deployment with no weapons, as had been directed by the government. It further alleged that the United States, one of the largest donors to South Sudan’s peace process, was also averse to the idea, arguing that South Sudan has weapons that “outnumber the population.”
The government spokesperson, Michael Makuei, addressed a media briefing nearly two weeks ago where he communicated a cabinet decision to allow deployment with sticks on the grounds that South Sudan has no arms for the exercise. The government has blamed the dragging deployment exercise on the arms embargo which prevents the procurement of arms and some military equipment.
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