August 4, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudanese new First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, said security reforms promised in the August 2015 peace agreement is still on course despite his view to speed up reunification of the rival armies in the country.
Gai, who replaced former First Vice President, Riek Machar, last week as new leader of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) in Juba, called for integration of rival forces before the eighteen months period enshrined in the peace deal.
“We must go along with full implementation of the peace agreement. This peace is for all South Sudanese and it talks about reforms. We are going to reform the army and other law enforcement agencies by providing them with resources that enable them to become professional and able to serve the people,” said Gai, speaking to leaders of the Federal Democratic Movement, a section of military officers that broke away from the SPLM-IO in July 2015.
The Federal Democratic Movement leaders, led by General Gathoth Gatkuoth, on Tuesday declared allegiance to the new SPLM-IO leader, Gai.
Gai said as part of his plan to restore peace in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, illegal arms will be collected and military barracks will be moved out of the city.
“We are going to collect all arms in hands of civilians so that they are only in the hands of the army, police and other security organs. We shall move the army from the population centers to their respective cantonment sites where they shall be retrained and under one command of chief of general of staff,” he added.
He did not indicate when exactly that will start.
The new first vice president said schools, health and shopping centers will be built at the military sites away from the civil population.
SPLA barracks, including the headquarters of Presidential Guards, are within civilian neighbourhoods in Juba. According to the peace agreement, Juba should have been demilitarized before forming Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU).
The process however failed to materialize as tens of thousands of government troops continue to live in Juba.