Planned graduation of forces hits brick wall, again

Planned graduation of forces hits brick wall, again
SSPDF Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang (photo credit: courtesy)

The graduation of the first batch of the necessary unified forces, which was slated for the first week of November, has been aborted.

 This marks yet another empty promise to more than 50, 000 stranded joint trainees at various training centres across the country.

Logistical and financial resources have been flagged as the major challenges facing the exercise aimed at assembling a unified army.

At the moment, the overall peace implementation process in South Sudan has been partly affected by the lack of compromise on the army joint command structure.

Speaking to The City Review yesterday, the Spokesperson South Sudan People’s Defense Force Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang said activities that precede the passing out of the forces were yet to be implemented

“I don’t know the time [of graduation] because the screening has not started. It was supposed to take place on the first week of November [but] it will not because screening comes first and we have not yet done it [due to lack] of financial resources,” Maj. Gen. Lul said.

In mid-October, the Joint Defence Board, the body charged with overseeing the training and graduation of the joint forces promised to conduct the graduation of the first batch of the forces in the first week of November which ended today.

The promise followed President Salva Kiir’s pledge to graduate from the forces in July. However, this failed due to persistent disagreement on the ratio of contributing forces among armed parties to the revitalised peace agreement.

Deadlock                                         

Earlier last month, President Kiir and the First Deputy President Dr Riek Machar objected to the IGAD’s proposed 55/45 ratio respectively as Kiir maintained that he favoured 60/40 ratio while Dr Machar held firmly for 50/50 contributing ratio to necessary unified forces.

Peace monitors have in the past voiced concern over the delay in forces’ graduation and dire conditions in training centres.  The cantonment sites have forced nearly half of the number of soldiers to desert due to lack of food, medicine and safe and clean drinking water as well as shelters.

According to the 2018 peace deal, within eight months of the signing of the peace agreement, South Sudan was supposed to register, screen, train, and graduate as well as redeploy 83, 000 unified forces. The soldiers were to be drawn from various armed parties to take charge of security during the transitional period.

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