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Not yet time for SPLA reunification

The Acting Spokesperson of Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) Colonel Santo Domic Chol says the army is yet to get reports of reunification into a single army from SPLA leadership.

Last year during the opening speech of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA), President Salva Kiir Mayardit announced that, the SPLA would be reunified into one army by May 2017.

According to the President’s speech to the law makers, by May this year, there would be no SPLA –In- Opposition in the country.

Speaking to Juba Monitor yesterday, Col. Chol said he would find out from army leadership to see how far the reunification process had gone in the ranks.

“I still have to get comments from the SPLA leadership in order to see where we are in the reunification process,” he said.

The Spokesperson for the SPLA-IO under the leadership of the First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai said the process had delayed due to lack of money for the establishment of the cantonment sites for SPLA-IO forces.

Colonel Dickson Gatluak, SPLA-IO Spokesperson in Juba said Molbo cantonment area is still under construction for assembling over 700 SPLA-IO forces in the country.

“Molbo is going to be used as a transit for our forces. In this cantonment we will have a screening of our forces. As we speak now work is progressing well,” he said.

He said Skylink Company is demining the area for assembling the SPLA-IO forces under the leadership of First Vice President Taban Gai.

“They have already started leveling the ground and as soon as they finish, we will invite peace partners. After the survey for the clinics, we will start registration for the SPLA-IO forces in Juba,” Col. Gatluak added. “We will start with battalion 750. We will go through the screening for 45 or 60 days and then screen another battalion. This is how it is going to be,” Col. Gatuak continued.

He said the month of May has already passed without reunification of the army because SPLA-IO forces were curtailed by logistical challenges as they could not get support of putting things ready for the cantonment areas as stipulated in the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS).

However on the reform of the SPLA, the acting Army Spokesperson Col. Santo Domic Chol said the minimum requirement for noncommissioned officers to join the SPLA ranks from civilian background is physical fitness and primary level of education.

“The minimum requirement is just a physically fitness of a person aging from 18 up to 25 who has a good conduct,” he said. “He should be a person who has completed primary or is still struggling to complete because we train them as normal infantry or just noncommissioned officers,” Col. Chol added.

He said the minimum requirements for the specialized units in the army include secondary education level, diploma level and degree for those who are interested to join the army.

“When we are recruiting people for specialized units like air defence, artillery, field engineering and so forth; this is where the minimum requirement is South Sudan School Certificate, diploma and may be degree holders if there are those who are interested,” he said.

He said graduates who join SPLA training would be promoted to first lieutenant.

He said graduates who have experience of five years in any field would be recommended for a rank of captain.

“If you are a master degree holder then you would be graduated as a major in the army,” he said.

He said the minimum requirement for joining the cadet is South Sudan School Certificate.

“It is from South Sudan School Certificate to bachelor degree. That is for the cadets,” he said.

He said SPLA had a post Cadet College where there was junior staff and senior staff colleges.

Attempts for comments from the Presidential Secretary on the SPLA reunification into one single army went unanswered.

By Sworo Charles Elisha

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