Graduation of Unified forces delayed
By Nema Juma
The Graduation of the Unified forces including the VIP protection forces which was supposed to happen this month has been delayed due to the recent changes in the Military hierarchy.
The 2018 revitalized peace agreement on the resolution of conflict in South Sudan required the cantonment, screening, and training of 83,000 Unified Forces to defend the deal through the transitional period.
However, the training of the forces was suspended in March in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Early this month, the Joint Transitional Security Committee said more than 40,000 Unified Forces were expected to be graduated from mid this month.
Sudan People’s Liberation Army –In Opposition (SPLA-IO), deputy military spokesperson, Col. Lam Paul Gabriel said the recent Changes in the military in which the Chief of Defense force was relieved had affected the operations of the Joint Defense Board (JDB).
The Joint Defense Board exercises command and control of all the forces of parties to the peace agreement.
The Board is supported by the Strategic Defense and Security Review Board – which handles the security sector transformation and policy development to expedite the process of cantonment of forces as enshrined in the peace accord.
President Salva Kiir this Month relived former Chief of Defense Force General Gabriel Jok Riak who was the Chairperson of the JDB, and replaced him with General Johnson Juma Okot who automatically becomes the Chairperson of the board.
“Gen Okot is yet to call for Joint Defense Board (JDB) first meeting under his command to brief members on what to do so that we can move forward,” Lam said
“We cannot just graduate them and leave them in the training centers. The JDB is working on the deployment strategy at the moment for these forces,”
“I don’t know when but we will let the media know when the graduation will take place” Lam added.
He further stated that the increase in the Coronavirus cases had also affected the graduation process.
“You know when these forces graduated and are deployed they will be mingling with people. We don’t want them to get exposed to this COVID-19 but we hope that when they are deployed we will be able to protect them and they will be able to do their Jobs without getting exposed to the virus” Lam said.