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New South Sudan army chief pledges to cooperate with regional force

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South Sudan army soldiers in Bentiu on January 12, 2014.  PHOTO | FILE

South Sudan army soldiers in Bentiu on January 12, 2014. PHOTO | FILE  AFP

By JOSEPH ODUHA in Juba

Posted  Friday, May 19   2017 at  13:42

South Sudan's newly appointed Chief of General Staff, General James Ajongo, has pledged his cooperation with the United Nations-funded Regional Protection Force (RPF) to restore peace and stability in the war-ravaged country.

The RPF has been deployed to improve the security situation in the capital Juba and protect civilians from atrocities being committed to them by warring groups in the country.

The force was to be deployed eight months ago but South Sudan had been reluctant to accept the deployment of the 4,000-strong soldiers.

Sacked former army chief General Paul Malong was seen as the powerful hardliner against the deployment of troops. His sacking last week coincided with the RPF deployment.

Speaking at the army headquarters in Juba on Thursday, Gen Ajongo, who replaced Gen Malong, said the military would cooperate with RPF, adding that they had made all the necessary arrangements to ensure it happens.

He said RPF was crucial in supplementing the government’s security forces in the country.

Gen Ajongo also called for reforms in the South Sudanese army.

“For SPLA to be an army that matches the [international] standards it must be reformed. It must be transformed from a rebel-like military to a national army that will work for the protection of the country,” he said.