By Bida Elly David
The national Minister of Cabinet Affairs has stated that the long awaited graduation of the unified forces was finally resolved and scheduled to take place on the 30th of August this year.
This development came following the recommendation driven from the presidency meeting yesterday aimed at having a final look at the number of the unified forces as well as the date through which they will be graduated.
The expanded presidency meeting was attended by the First Vice President, Vice presidents and ministers concerned with the implementation of the peace roadmap as well as Generals from the organized forces sections such as the army, police, the national security, wild life, prison and civil defense.
The aim of the meeting was to have a final look at the number of forces to be graduated and to agree on the date when these forces shall be graduated.
Speaking to the press after the meeting yesterday, the Cabinet Affairs Minister Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro stated that a total number of Fifty Two Thousand and two (52,002) screened unified forces shall be graduated in different intervals of time respectively.
He underscored that the graduation shall start with forces in greater Equatoria region followed by greater Upper Nile and lastly greater Bahr-el-Ghazal respectively.
“We have heard the report and there are some 26,508 forces which are mixture of army, national security and police in nine (9) Centers in the greater Equatoria who are ready for graduation, 15,682 in five stations of greater Upper Nile, we have 9,812 in three Centers of greater Bahr-el-Ghazal ready to be graduated. We have agreed that they will be graduated by the 30th of August this year. In about twenty days, we will have the forces paraded and graduated as per our roadmap,” Dr. Lomuro affirmed.
He further said the meeting also recommended a follow up meeting after one week to deliberate on other pending issues that require absolute resolution to pave smooth ways forward for the graduation of the first screened group.
“The meeting resolved that we shall follow up the discussions of this meeting after seven days for us to be comfortable that issues that might be outstanding would be resolved within these days and after that we will solve any problem that requires solution before the 30th of August,” he stated.
“The presidency has directed all the units such as the army, police, national security, prison, civil defense, wildlife to commence meetings as of today (Wednesday) to look at detailed requirement and bring it to the committee which will start tomorrow (today)’’ he added
The Cabinet Affairs Minister urged the citizens to receive this news with comfort and called on partners to be confident on their determinations to solve and implement the roadmap.
Earlier the head of security mechanisms and the National Transitional Committee (NTC) had resolved on Tuesday to have the Necessary Unified Forces in training centers graduated in two weeks’ time from Tuesday 9th August 2022.
Tut Gatluak Manime, the NTC chairperson and Presidential Advisor on Security Affairs disclosed to the media the timeline for the graduation after a meeting that drew together the NTC and heads of security mechanisms such as the Joint Defense Board (JDB), Joint Transitional Security Committee (JTSC), and Joint Military Ceasefire Committee (JMCC).
Addressing journalists, Mr. Tut said they held a joint meeting with head of security mechanisms to iron out nagging issues of graduation of the unified forces which they successfully agreed to graduate them after two weeks.
“We have been discussing this issue of graduation of forces for long nevertheless financial constraint did not allow us but now that we have extended the transitional period, we have decided to graduate the first batch – all forces in the training centers will be graduated in two weeks from now (Tuesday 9 August 2022) and we will recruit the new batch or ‘phase two’ as required in the revitalized peace agreement,” Tut stated.
There are about 53,000 screened Unified Forces of the first batch of joint trainees in 18 training centers across South Sudan which had been awaiting graduation for nearly three years since late 2019.
In April, President Salva Kiir confirmed the ranks and files of South Sudan Opposition Alliance’s commanders and those of the main opposition movement, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in opposition (SPLM/A-IO).
Several plans to graduate these forces have not been fulfilled, the government kept extending the exercise citing financial constraints, and some blamed the arms embargo imposed by UN Security Council on the country as another factor impeding the graduation of the forces citing lack of guns to graduate the forces.
Under chapter two of the 2018 security arrangement provision, there shall be 83,000 strong Necessary Unified Forces drawn from all the forces of the parties’ signatory to the 2018 R-ARCSS charged with maintaining the security during the ongoing transitional period.