The spokesperson of South Sudan People’s Defense Forces said Friday too many long-serving generals and the lack of funds to retire them led to difficulties in effecting reforms and organizing the national army.
Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang said the inflation of generals is due to a lack of proper implementation of the Pension Fund Act.
According to him, the army has not succeeded to retire veterans because it cannot pay their pension.
“We have not been retiring, the best thing we have been doing over the years since we came here in 2005, is transferring officers and NCOs, mostly officers, from being on active list to a reserve list,” Gen. Lul said on Eye Radio’s Dawn Show.
“We have had situations of someone who had been taken to the reserve list being brought back to the active list.”
The official said Bilpam is still unable to retire even some veterans from the first Sudanese Civil War of Anyanya One.
“As we speak, we still have veterans of Anyanya One in service, as we speak some are active, some are on the reserve and receiving their salary,” Lul said on Eye Radio’s Dawn Show.
“Then we have the veterans of SPLM/A-led war. Now, when you put all these generals together, of course, you will have a huge number of generals, that’s why I’m saying it is not our problem, we have inherited it.”
Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang did not mention the number of generals in the army.
Lul also blamed the increased number of generals in the military on what he termed as ‘random promotion’ and the emergence of rebel movements.
“Secondly, one person will defect from the national army, go and form his group and start a random promotion. When they come back, they come back generals, and we are forced as a government to absorb them in the interest of peace, and that’s why sometimes we say peace is very expensive, it comes at a cost.”
He appealed to the government to allocate funds to enable the retirement of veterans especially those from the Liberation Struggle.
“For this problem to be successfully fought, there is a need for the implementation of the pension act, and there is a need for the government to allocate some funds so that we embark on the retirement of our veterans.”
“Starting with officers and other ranks. So, because of rank inflation, because of the inflation of our parades from time to time, we have not been able to pay them well.”
In August 2020, the SSPDF announced plans to retire some of its officers.
This was part of embarking on reforming the national army.
Transforming the former SPLA, now SSPDF, into a professional army has been a promise made by several former Chiefs of Defense Forces.
But experts said the task has not been easy – considering the rampant corruption by top military leaders, and the level of illiteracy among the soldiers.
They reported that the army was still loyal to individual politicians and community leaders.