JUBA – South Sudan’s minister of defense, Angelina Teny, has said on Tuesday that the necessary unified forces provided for in the country’s revitalized peace agreement signed by President Salva Kiir and his first deputy Dr. Riek Machar Teny, will be graduated this month, after two years of delays.
According to the 2018 peace deal, the unified forces – composing of opposition and government forces – were supposed to be graduated right before the end of the pre-transitional period which ended in February last year with Machar’s appointment as First Vice President.
However, owing to lack of funds and political will, the forces haven’t yet been graduated and the regional and international communities, as well as peace monitors in the country, have urged the parties to speed up the process.
Several deadlines provided by the parties have not been met, pushing the graduation of the forces further.
Speaking following a meeting of a security committee in Bilpam on Tuesday, Mrs. Teny, who is also the Chairperson of SPLM-IO National Committee for Security and Defense, said the unified forces will be graduated before the end of this month.
“For us this is a very good beginning and hopefully before the end of this month, we will see the unified forces graduating,” she said. “We have concluded a very crucial meeting. This meeting included myself as a member of the National Transitional Committee, the mechanisms to do with Joint Defense Board and Joint Transitional Security Committee, to discuss the graduation of forces. We have discussed timeline for funding of the process because one of the main challenges we have been facing is the issue of the funding for the graduation.”
The senior opposition and government official further revealed that President Salva Kiir’s security advisor and chairperson of the National Transitional Committee (NTC), Tut Gatluak, has promised to avail all the necessary resources for the graduation.
“The other challenge we had and we have just discussed is to do with logistics, the uniform for organized forces. We have enough here that we had received from friends for the army but for the organized forces, he just promised that he [Tut Gatluak] is on his way to Khartoum and on his way back, he will bring the uniforms,” she said.