Rival forces join ranks towards army unification

Gen. Gabriel Duop Lam Acting SPLA-IO Chief of General Staff and co-chair of JDB (L), Lt. Gen. Thoi Chany Reat, the Deputy Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) of the SSPDF (C), and Gen. Julius Tabuley SSOA army commander and co-chair to the JDB accompanied by their respective military spokespersons standing behind them while holding a joint press briefing at SSPDF Headquarters in Bilpam on Friday (Photo: Philip Buda Ladu)

By Philip Buda Ladu

The South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF), Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) and the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) army forces command that are co-chairing the Joint Defense Board (JDB) have joined their ranks ahead of the unification of the armies.

This comes as a result of the signing of the agreement on the unification of the command of the unified forces that was signed in Juba on Sunday bringing to an end a deadlock on the unification of the command structure between the SPLM-IG and the opposition.

The breakthrough agreement which was brought by Sudan proposal on the implementation of the security arrangements gives the incumbent government or SPLM-IG a maximum ratio of 60 percent and the opposition 40 percent minimum ratio on the sharing of the command.

On Friday, the JDB held a meeting at the SSPDF General Headquarters graced by the Chairperson of the National Transitional Committee (NTC) and Presidential Security Advisor, Tut Gathluak, attended by the Chairperson and the Co-Chairs of the JDB.

Present at the meeting were also Members of the various security mechanisms from all the parties, representatives of the security supervisors, mechanisms of the peace guarantors including senior officers from IG, IO and SSOA.

The purpose of the meeting was to brief the members of the security mechanism and the SSPDF Headquarters on the unification of the command and imperative to the security and stability of the country.

It also meant to consolidate trust building between the senior command and the officers of the parties; arrangements for the graduation of the forces and the planned centres into the training centres of the trainees as part of the phase two of the necessary unified forces.

Lt. Gen. Thoi Chany Reat, the Deputy Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) of the SSPDF in his remarks at a joint media briefing on behalf of CDF who also serves as the Chairperson of the JDB welcomed the decision of the Presidency on the unification of the command across the security institutions.

“As the deputy of the CDF of the SSPDF, I would like to say that I personally welcome the decision of the Presidency. I am also pleased to inform that all my colleagues’ commanders in the SSPDF have also welcomed the decision of the Presidency, we congratulate the Presidency,” Gen. Chany said.

“To my colleagues here and the other representatives from the SPLA-IO and SSOA, I would like to say we are looking forward for you to join us so that together we rebuild and transform our beloved Country South Sudan” he added.

Gen. Chany, the SSPDF Deputy CDF urged the Mechanisms tasked with finalizing the forces for graduation to speed up the process of graduation of the unified forces and to similarly spare no efforts in preparing for the phase two of the necessary unified forces’ training.

“In regards to assurance I know there are so many issues that had happened, I trust and I believe comrades this agreement is holding. And those are the command these are commanding the forces, so if they are united then who is going to fight who” he assured the public of their commitment.

Gen. Chany verbally directed all the forces on behalf of the CDF and the command of the SSPDF to cease hostilities and uphold the Cessation of Hostility Agreement (COHA).

Meanwhile, Gen. Julius Tabuley, SSOA army commander and JDB Co-chair affirmed that the issue of screening and the streamlining of ranks have already been done, since or late last year in December where committees were sent down to the various training centres and they streamed reorganized and unified the forces in those training centres.

“This work was concluded successfully and on the 16th of February the JDB met the Presidency in which the meeting was also graced by the presence of the Deputy Chair of the Sudan Sovereign Council, and in that meeting we presented all the details concerning the already unified forces in the training centres so what is left technically undone is the graduation of those forces” he stated.

Gen. Tabuley said there are about 50,000 unified forces altogether in all the training centres which include the army, police, national security, prison, wildlife and civil defense screened ready awaiting their graduation.

“The next thing is a small technicality for the JTSC to work out the timetable which is not a big deal and then the funding. Yes, the issue of the funding had been a challenge way back there but thank God the Chair of NTC was here and he said by himself that yes we are in for the implementation and we will do all that is within our means to make sure that the remaining tasks are implemented, so that by itself is an assurance that the funds are there” Gen. Tabuley elaborated.

Gen. Gabriel Duop Lam, the SPLA-IO Acting Chief of General Staff for his part emphasized that security arrangement is the backbone of the agreement and it should be implemented to make implementation of the agreement to move smoothly.

“It is very important for the parties to implement the security arrangements to unify the forces so that we move from that level to another level that one is very important and I hope if the command come together we shall be moving forward mostly,” said Gen. Duop.

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