BILPAM 17 MAR 2020-Escorted by the outgoing Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk, incoming Defence Minister Angelina Teny was received by honorary guards in Bilpam, the headquarters of the Armed Forces. Teny, newly appointed into the Defence docket is the first female Minister of Defence in the country.
Teny, who is the first wife of Riek Machar, is known for her pragmatism and the ability to compartmentalize different viewpoints without subjecting herself to cognitive dissonance. A relatively new politician, Teny’s place in the governance of South Sudan was not obvious before the crisis of December 2013 when the government collapsed.
Taking the reins of the Defence Ministry in accordance with the arrangements of the peace agreement, Teny is expected to bring dramatic reforms to the Ministry and the general Armed Forces of the country. It is expected that Teny will focus on curtailing the lawlessness of the Armed Forces and the obvious lack of marshal laws to government military conduct. Progress will be incremental but in the short-term, Teny will possibly focus on the following.
- Establish order within the rank and file of the military.
- Create a top-to-bottom approach to develop an accountable army.
- Detribalise the national army, in order to align their conduct with public safety.
- Work with the Ministry of Interior to limit lawlessness in the city and throughout the country.
- Encourage public discourse meant to recreate the image of the military as a protector, rather than an institution to be feared.
Challenges are enormous for Teny and her Ministry but she has the opportunity to stabilise the country in a way never seen before. Kuol Manyang Juuk, her predecessor and veteran military loyalist struggled to contain lawless militia and tribal diehards since he took over the Ministry of Defence. It still remains to be seen whether Angelina Teny has the capacity to succeed where her predecessor failed.