Today, President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Republic of South Sudan and their government has decided to change their name of their military arm. This arm has been since before the independence and while being a guerrilla or a militia who fought for decades to get freedom from Khartoum. Certainly, this is tainting the legacy of Dr. John Garang, but also trying to consolidate the power even more. If not he has gotten advice from President Yoweri Museveni, who himself changed his rebels into the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) from National Resistance Army (NRA), the military arm of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).
“President Kiir yesterday renamed the national army, the Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA) after former militia led by Riek Machar and Paulino Matip in 1990 and early 2000s. Through Republican Order Number 12/2017, the President restructured the Command of the SPLA. As the Republican Order was read out on SSBC, the subtle change of reference from the Chief of General Staff to Chief of Defense Forces marked a new change to the official reference of the army as the SPLA to South Sudan Defense Forces. The title South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF) was previously the name of a pro-Khartoum militia first led by Riek Machar as Commander-In-Chief and later on led by the late Paulino Matip that fought against the SPLA for more than 15 years. The SSDF was the first militia to be integrated into the SPLA in 2006” (The National Courier, 16.05.2017).
Certainly, the name and structure is now different. But their acts still are the same. The renaming itself and the change of structure doesn’t stop the violence and the killings. So this might be a trying of enforcing a different approach, but for the moment it is more fiction, than reality. As the deaths, the man-made famine and the fleeing refugees will not see any different between an SPLA or a SSDF. It is a noble idea, but not life-changing. Until, the army is an institution and a vital part of government. Not a free militia run-by warlords and former rebel generals. That is the situation right now and therefore, the skirmishes and fierce battles, as the collaborated opposition is making the situation even more futile. Until the civil war ends, there aren’t really much to win, as the rebuilding and the create stability will take enormous time, as the warfare in the region has happened for decades upon decades without any end.
If he kicked off King Malong for this reason, as he knew the former general wouldn’t be satisfied being a leader of a national army and being re-branded. That is unknown, as there been indications that he wished to topple President Kiir, but nothing that has come to the surface. However, the government wish to “box” him in. So it is not like the government doesn’t fear that man and his allegiance.
Because of this hours after, the SPLA changed their minds, and didn’t change after all, since the same agency sent this to world, because they knew the issue of changing it:
“The office of the president has issued a statement saying that the name of the national army has not been changed from the SPLA to SSDF. The presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny made the announcement on SSBC despite having told a National Courier journalist this morning that the name has been changed. The NC called Ateny to clarify on the new title of “Chief of Defense Forces” whether that meant the name SPLA has been dropped of which Ateny said it indeed has been changed to SSDF. Ateny told the NC that no country has maintained the name of its liberation struggle army giving several examples before adding that the change was long overdue. He said it was in accordance with recommendations of defence review committee. This was met with mixed reaction of equal praise and ferocious condemnation. In a statement clarifying the whole saga, Ateny said the name has not been changed only the structure” (The National Courier, 2017).
So the kid didn’t change name, apparently and the shadow game or whatever it was a few hours of mocking and also the truth. The SPLA and SPLM are the same, one is the military organization and the other political one. If there is a close difference or different procedure between them is surely only known by the ones who deserted or rebelled. There are certain some aspects here that the Office of the President Kiir changed his mind, as he knew what this would mean for him and his respect. Therefore, he didn’t dare to do so today.
You can wonder if the President Kiir will release the Republican Decree 12/2017! This should be seen as a historical document of a failed approach or wishful dream of making a swift change from a rebellious past, into a modern Republican Army. Instead, the SPLA and SPLM are still the same the famous SPLM/A. Certainly, the SPLM-IO and all the other rebel outfits must feel with joy that this maneuver. Who even didn’t last a day and the Spokesperson Ateny has really made himself look vulnerable. Since the last report ot the National Courier, really seemed like saving face after the bravado of changing name of the army came into full-effect. Peace.