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South Sudan to expedite unification of forces

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August 11, 2021 (JUBA)- South Sudan will expedite unification of forces to avoid tension and deteriorating security situation resulting from long stay of troops in various training camps across the country, the presidency announced on Tuesday.

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The unified force of instructors pose for a group photo in Juba, October 5, 2019 (Xinhua)

The decision to expedite the unification of forces was reached in a meeting attended by President Salva Kiir and his First deputy in coalition government Riek Machar and three other deputies. James Wani Igga, Taban Deng Gai, Hussein Abdelbagi Akol and Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior were in attendance.

Presidential advisor on security affairs, Tut Gatluak Manime, and presidential affairs minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin as well as other high level presidential aides and associates of the parties to revitalized agreement also attended.

The presidency, according to presidential affairs, has agreed to expedite unification of the command of forces, pointing to directives to various leaders with connection to armed groups to present list of nominees for the unified command to President Salva Kiir as required by the terms of the 2018 revitalized peace deal.

“The Presidency calls for the immediate unification of the command of the forces and has directed First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar and Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi Akol to present their list of nominees for the unified command to His Excellency President Salva Kiir Mayardit”, the statement reads.

“The unified command, according to the statement, will comprise South Sudan People’s Defence Forces; the South Sudan National Police Services; the National Security Services; the National Prisons Service; the Wildlife Forces; and the Civil Defence Forces.”

According to the 2018 revitalized peace deal, South Sudan is supposed to train and graduate 83,000 personnel to take charge of security during the transitional period but the unification of the army has been delayed amidst concerns that the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council remains a stumbling block.

Meanwhile the presidency statement called for immediate cessation of hostilities between armed opposition forces under the command of the first vice president Riek Machar and groups loyal to his former chief of staff, General Simon Gatwech Dual, who are involved in hostilities in Meganis area.

The presidency called for restrain and discouraged any interference to the ongoing implementation of the agreement. Instead, the meeting encouraged the parties to the peace agreement “to adhere to the spirit of peace, reconciliation, and healing.”

The minister of presidential affairs Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the meeting was conducted in a collegial manner as agreed by the parties to the agreement.

The meeting directed all security mechanisms stipulated in the agreement, including the Security Supervision Mechanism (SSM) and the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement, Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) to visit the areas of conflict to maintain calm and prevent violence.

It called on forces under the command of Machar and Dual to observe a reasonable distance to avoid further clashes. The meeting further directed all the relevant mechanism to ensure they take measures to visit Training centers and cantonment sites.

“The Presidency calls on the Joint Defence Board (JDB); he Joint Transitional Security Committee (JTSC) and the joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC) to visit the training centers and cantonment sites under the supervision of the National Transitional Committee (NTC)," further stressed the statement.

(ST)

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