South Sudan president retires over 100 army generals

Updated 18 February 2013
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South Sudan president retires over 100 army generals

JUBA: 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 professionalyzing 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.


Germany’s Merkel calls for solutions to Iran’s “aggressive tendencies”

Updated 43 min 44 sec ago
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Germany’s Merkel calls for solutions to Iran’s “aggressive tendencies”

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Iran’s aggressive tendencies must not only be discussed, but rather we need solutions urgently.
  • Germany remained party to the Iran nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbing its atomic program, after US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May.

AMMAN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday said European countries shared concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile program and called for solutions to its “aggressive tendencies” in the Middle East.
“Iran’s aggressive tendencies must not only be discussed, but rather we need solutions urgently,” she said after meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman.
Germany remained party to the Iran nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbing its atomic program, after US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May.
Merkel said on Thursday that while European countries wanted to maintain the 2015 accord, they shared concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile program, its presence in Syria and its role in the war in Yemen.
In Syria, Iran is a big military supporter of President Bashar Assad, sending some of its own forces there and backing Shiite militias from Lebanon and Iraq who are fighting on the ground. Gulf and Western countries accuse Tehran of arming the Houthi group in Yemen, which it denies.
Merkel said earlier this month after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the question of Iran’s regional influence was “worrying, especially for Israel’s security.”
Abdullah, who met Netanyahu on Monday and spoke by phone with Trump’s son-in-law and regional envoy Jared Kushner on Tuesday, said there could be no peace in the Middle East without a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
The United States is preparing a new peace plan, which has not yet been made public, but has already angered Palestinians by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Abdullah this month appointed a new prime minister after the country’s biggest protests in years over taxes and price increases pushed by the International Monetary Fund.
Merkel said reforms should be balanced and “not hit the wrong people.”