UN Security Council holds keys to SSPDF destiny

By Philip Buda Ladu

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) arms embargo on South Sudan is being blamed for holding back the young East African nation’s determination to send its first ever regional peace mission force to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to help contribute towards efforts for regional peace and stability. 

The South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) spokesperson, Major General Lul Ruai Koang said training of the SSPDF Battalion of 750 soldiers for the East African regional force to D.R.C is at top notch, but said lack of armaments is delaying departure of the force which is almost ready.

 “General training has been going on very well but the government is still working on the issue of armament –you know the country is under sanction (arms embargo) and we are still having difficulties purchasing armaments for them,” the SSPDF spokesperson Gen. Lul Ruai Koang told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper.

The government army spokesperson said the South Sudan battalion set for the DRC mission are supposed to have the same type of armaments with the rest of the forces from the member states. Adding “so the weapons, weaponry support system we are still working on that, it’s not yet in place.”

Asked of when South Sudan will dispatch its battalion of regional forces to the D.R.C, General Lul Ruai said “they will be deployed –as soon as we are able to provide the necessary weaponry system.”

The SSPDF spokesperson said the battalion is ready for the DRC mission adding that they (force) have been in the training center for the last seven to eight months and they are ready, saying they (forces) are only undertaking refresher trainings currently waiting for their necessary weaponry support system.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit in his closing remarks at the sixth governor’s forum last week disclosed that South Sudan is sending its battalion of 750 soldiers to the DRC as part of its contribution to the EAC regional force aimed at bringing security stability in the region.

The 6th governor’s forum –an annual high level leadership forum that concluded last Wednesday in Juba in one of its recommendations called for lifting of the arms embargo on South Sudan.

The call to the UNSC to lift the arms embargo according to the resolution was to enable the country arm its security forces so that they are able to provide security to the people of South Sudan as well as help in the stabilization of security in the region similar to the one they are about to undertake in the D.R.C.

The council of ministers earlier approved a six million United States dollars budget for the SSPDF peace mission to the DRC as the army spokesperson said each country will have to cater for the welfare of its contingent of the regional force mission to the DRC.

Neighboring Republic of Kenya has already sent its battalion of the regional force which is now in the DRC to battle the M23 rebels among other groups causing havoc in the restive eastern DRC

SSPDF response to critics

Meanwhile the SSPDF spokesperson Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai has come out boldly to justify the government decision to contribute towards the deployment of the EAC regional force to the DRC although some citizens and critics slammed the Kiir transitional gov’t of trying to play fool contributing troops to restore stability in the restive eastern part of DRC yet back home there is no total peace.

Responding to the criticism Gen. Lul argued that they have to agree on the type of insecurities they are facing back home in South Sudan before people slammed the gov’t for responding to the regional obligation.

“We have limited political threats that are being caused by National Salvation Front (NAS) in some parts of Central and Western Equatoria that one we are handling it,” he said adding “The other kind or other forms of insecurities are community, inter-communal clashes like the ones we have been witnessing in different parts of Warrap State and also we are settling it, so these small internal issues cannot stop us from contributing to regional peace and stability”.

The SSPDF spokesperson hailed the decision to send the SSPDF battalion to DRC saying “It is a recognition of our military ability to contribute towards stabilization of security situation in the region.”

He stressed that it is an indication of the political will that means the political leadership is ready to contribute to towards bringing peace and stability to the areas that are facing insecurity.

“It is also an indication that we have come of age –we had started about 17 years ago, we have transformed from being a guerilla army and 17 years down the line now we are recognized as an army now we could contribute towards realization of peace in the region –so it’s a positive step” Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai praised the regional call up.

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