Forces graduation slated for November amid logistical worries
The government has signaled the ongoing flooding in parts of the country as a potential hindrance to the deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces.
The spokesperson of South Sudan People’s Defense Forces, Maj. Gen Lul Ruai Koang said the Joint Defense Board (JDB) had been given only four weeks to complete the screening exercise and ensure the forces are graduated.
But according to the SSPDF boss, most parts of the country are submerged hence this could affect the facilitation of some forces to report back to the respective training centers especially those in areas of Upper Nile and some parts of greater Bhar el Ghazal.
He said poor road networks also pose another challenge in the transportation of food.
On Monday Joint Defense Board leadership urged all the trainees who quit the centers to report back as soon as possible.
They resolved that SSPDF preposition necessary logistics required to facilitate the smooth running of the screening exercise.
The team has embarked on plans to start the screening exercise of forces in the training centers of Equatoria, Bahr el Ghazal, and Upper Nile regions.
Koang described the process and graduation time frame as “real this time”.
“We have been given four weeks to complete the process. We believe by the end of our weeks or at the beginning of the first week of November, the Unified forces will be graduated,” Maj.Gen.Lul told The City Review on a telephone interview yesterday.
“When a process dragged for long it took two years due to reasons beyond our control. This reason was well known and we have stated them time and again,” he added.
He stressed that some of the forces who deserted the training centers have been doubting their commitment. He appealed to them to join their colleagues in the centers so that their time should not be wasted at the last moment.
“We know their frustration is understandable. It was not intentional. Now we are moving at lining speed to bring this chapter so that we back on the second phase of the implementation of the transitional security arrangement,” he said.
Last month, the government blamed the financial constraints and the continued United Nations Security Council’s arms embargo on South Sudan for the delay in the graduation of the necessary unified forces.
Grey areas pending
Though the transitional period which was supposed to end in 2021 has been extended twice up to 2022, about 80 percent of the agreement is yet to be implemented. Critical provisions remain pending, including the Chapter Two of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements such as the training, graduation, and redeployment of 83, 000 necessary unified forces.
The formation of the joint command remains pending with parties disagreeing over forces contribution ratio. While the incumbent government wants a 60:40 percent ratio, the opposition groups demand 50:50 percent, resulting in deadlock.
According to the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Verification Commission (R-JMEC), various training centers across the country have deserted due to a lack of necessities such as food, shelters, and clean drinking water.