by Staff Writers
Juba (AFP) Feb 18, 2013
South Sudan has retired over 100 generals as part of a sweeping restructuring of the former rebel force, in a move partly aimed at demilitarising the fledgling nation's government, officials said Monday.
The presidential decree to retire 117 generals follows similar orders last month for 35 other generals and all six deputy army chiefs of staff.
"They all finished their time in the military service so they are retired but are paid...There must be new blood to come up for a change, because we are a new nation at last," army spokesman Kella Kueth told AFP.
South Sudan won independence from former civil war foe Sudan in July 2011, facing a raft of challenges to rebuild the conflict-ravaged nation, including turning a bloated guerrilla army of some 200,000 troops into a regular force.
The army absorbed several former rival rebel factions -- some once acting as proxy forces for Sudan -- as part of peace building efforts, swallowing up large chunks of the impoverished nation's budget.
Several of the generals now hold government positions, too.
"It is a way of separating the military and civilians, which the army has not been very good at for years. So it's a positive change", said one Western diplomat on condition of anonymity.
But with rebel militia forces still operating and a pension system not yet implemented, stripping army commanders of both title and salary would be a dangerous move.
"This is about cleaning up the administration and professionalizing the army, but it is a delicate process and has to be done slowly," Matthew LeRiche, an academic and expert on the former South Sudanese rebel force said.
Guinean soldiers occupy Ivorian village in border dispute
An Ivorian soldier in the area told AFP, when reached by telephone from Abidjan, that "around 50 Guinean soldiers armed with Kalashnikovs" took over the village of Kpeaba.
Kpeaba lies close to the town of Sipilou, around 15 kilometres (nine) from Ivory Coast's border with Guinea.
"They have taken down the Ivorian flag and raised the Guinean one," said the soldier with the FRCI, the Ivorian army.
"The situation is tense, a contingent of FRCI troops is stationed seven kilometres" from Kpeaba, he said.
A member of the Ivorian police force said "the incursion and occupation date from the beginning of February."
The source added that the Guineans had ousted the Ivorian village chief and brought in their own on Saturday.
The dispute between the two former French colonies dates back to the days of independence, he said.
Guinea gained independence from France in 1958 and Ivory Coast followed suit in 1960.
"A joint Ivorian-Guinean commission is needed to settle this dispute" and "demarcate definitively this part of the border," the police source said.
The western region of Ivory Coast is the most unstable in the country.
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