22 November 2012

South Sudan: Military Seeks to Improve Relations With Civilians

Juba — A one-day workshop aimed at improving relations between the military and the civilian population concluded in Juba kicked off on Tuesday.

Attended by members of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLA), police, prisons, wildlife, representatives from the Human Rights Commission and the national Ministry of Gender, the workshop outlined some of the bottlenecks hindering good civilian-military relations and possibilities of fixing the gaps.

Col. Philip Aguer Panyang the SPLA spokesman, described the current civilian-military relations as being 'good' though he said the army and the other forces are working together to make the relations better.

Representatives from the Military Intelligence, National Security among other security organs expressed concerns over how the general public perceives their role. "The relation between the military and the civilian population has to be perfect because it is the civilian population that the military comes from and later retires to", Col. Aguer observed.

Singling out the army, Col. Aguer said there have been some few irregularities particularly in cases of civil military operations.

"We had pockets of incidents in the area of disarmament in Jonglei; we investigated them and others were tried", he said. He explained SPLA has been quick to address these irregularities in a manner to ensure that maximum discipline is ascertained and trust of the people is maintained.

Col. Aguer said the position of the SPLA command has always been of ensuring a positive image of the army among the civilians. He also urged his security counterparts to work together with the media as partners in promoting relations between the military and the civil population. He however cautioned the media to be straight forward and fair in its reporting.

"We want the media to be straight forward and publish confirmed information by the highest authorities of the military command", he said.

He explained that some media houses publish stories that are "twisted" thereby giving out incomplete messages which may be wrongly received.

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