Bishop in South Sudan Calls on Government to Reorganize Soldiers, Weed Out Militants

Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of South Sudan's Tombura-Yambio Diocese

The Catholic Bishop of South Sudan’s Tombura-Yambio has called on the country’s Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) to reorganize the army forces under a sole command and control in order to achieve lasting peace in the East-Central African nation.

In a statement obtained by ACI Africa Thursday, February 11, Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala says that there is a danger in the country operating under different commanders, with some armed groups still working outside the military.

“I want to call upon the government of South Sudan to prioritize the care, the maintenance, the organization and the development of men and women in uniform,” Bishop Hiiboro says in his statement dated February 10.

He adds, “We have no one Commander-in-Chief in this country and this is not only very dangerous but is also very scary.”

“I beg those concerned to please hurry to reorganize the army; hurry and reorganize the different armed forces so that we have confidence that our country is protected and that our lives and the lives of women and children are protected,” the South Sudanese Bishop says.


Expounding his call on the country’s authorities, Bishop Hiiboro highlights the political stability of the nine-year-old nation, people’s peaceful co-existence, and the implementation of justice as key results of “the reorganization, maintenance and care of men and women in uniform.”     

“If they (soldiers) are organized, they will efficiently carry out their role of protecting people, of enforcing justice and order within our country,” he says, and explains, “Leaving them (soldiers) in a chaotic way like it is at the moment, is actually leaving the country at the mercy of disorganization, of confusion, of violence and lawlessness.”

Bishop Hiiboro reveals, “I am still aware that so many groups that had taken arms have not yet given up their arms; they are still holding their guns.”

The Local Ordinary of Tombura-Yambio goes on to say that the different categories of people who took arms against the government, bringing a lot of suffering to innocent people “are still holding guns today.”

“They are still in their groups; they still have their commanders, they still have their leaders,” he says in reference to militants in the country.

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“Why do we need military people, why do we need police, why do we need prison warders, why do we need the rangers, why do we need security personnel, why do we need these people?” the Bishop who will turn 57 next month probes.

He offers, “We need them (forces) because the people who live in this country need to be protected, to be guided, to be supported; the people in this country need their lives to be put in order.”

Additionally, the Shepherd of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio appeals for the care of army forces who he says should be given necessary resources to live decent lives “so that they are not tempted to go beyond their own duties.”

“I am so much aware that most of our soldiers go hungry; most of them do not have decent houses to live in; they do not have proper medical support; they do not have insurance for their families and they are lacking in so many other basic necessities,” says Bishop Hiiboro.

To political leaders in South Sudan, he says, “I am therefore calling upon our government and all those concerned especially at this moment when we have a government of national unity, that if we can prioritize the reorganization of our army, then we will be doing justice to this nation.”


One essential part of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) that has not been implemented is the consolidation of the military and the opposition forces into one army.

A unified military that meets international human rights standards is necessary for a lasting and sustainable peace.

Financial shortfalls have prevented cadets from graduating and soldiers from being deployed. There have even been multiple reports of troops abandoning their posts in garrisons and training centers because of a lack of food and basic supplies, confirming that the government might require outside support.

Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration have also been hampered by tensions related to fears that this process could be selective or otherwise biased.

A failure to launch these processes poses a serious threat to the implementation of the R-ARCSS and a successful transition to law and order and peace in South Sudan, Bishop Hiiboro says.

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“The danger I am warning you about and I am worried about is that once the army and the organized forces are not in order or if they are using the guns they have against the civilians, punishing and humiliating the civilians, then there is the temptation that the civilians may not continue to persevere and therefore they too may take arms,” he says.

Thanking the soldiers, he says, “I beg you to continue being loyal to your country by protecting the lives of people we have… I also beg you not to turn the guns you are holding against your fellow brothers and sisters.”

Addressing himself to South Sudan’s military, Bishop Hiiboro adds, “Restrain and continue to struggle for the right things to be done for you within those institutions.”