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MALAKAL - 1 Jan 2014

Interview: ‘Army should defend the constitution’

SPLA Lt-Gen. Johnson Gony Biliu, the commander of the army’s 7th Division in contested Upper Nile State, says that the army should fight to defend national sovereignty and the national constitution, not join in ethnic violence.

Forces under the command of Biliu, a Nuer, helped drive out defectors and armed civilians who took over parts of Malakal last week. The following remarks by the commander were recorded by Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday, 31 December 2013.

Gen. Johnson Gony Biliu:

This is not the first time for such an incident to occur in Upper Nile. What I can say is that all those issues are created by the politicians, they are the ones who dragged the citizens to fight. They were the ones calling people on phones and said that there is a problem between Dinka and Nuer. 

I, as the head of Military Sector 2, can't drag myself into the issue just because I am from Nuer tribe but I am surprised why a certain ethnic group is targeted in Juba and up to now we are still receiving telephone calls that people are still running away from Juba.

People should not be in the assembly to represent their tribes but to provide services and development to the citizens and you should not also kill the citizens because they are the ones who voted you in and they are the ones who must vote you in again in the next election. 

Riek should know that the seat of the vice president is not only for him until he dies, it should be held by other people also.

Another issue that I want to put clearly is that people should know that the army who fought for this country and who are still defending it up to now are not only from Dinka tribe but all sons and daughters of this country are in the one in the national army. This army should defend the national constitution and the state sovereignty.  

I strongly condemn the rumors that are ever spread in Malakal that people are still being killed [ed. - in Juba] up to now despite the fact that dead bodies are not found to confirm the killing.

I am saying enough is enough, those who remain now should not be killed, and my message to Riek is that let him train real soldiers in order to come and face us with them, but not to mobilize untrained civilians because for us the national army is to defend the national sovereignty.

File photo (Gurtong)