JUBA – South Sudan’s main armed opposition group, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), led by First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny has set a new precondition for the graduation of the unified forces provided for in the revitalized peace agreement saying the priority should be given to the unification of top command structure before graduation of the forces.
The parties are yet to reach a deal on ratio of unified command structure essential for overseeing graduation of Necessary Unified Forces.
The deadlock on unified command makes it difficult to appoint nominees for key positions at highest level of defense and security.
Speaking to Sudans Post on Monday, SPLM-IO Director of Information and Acting Press Secretary for First Vice President, Puok Both Baluang, said the SPLM-IO stand firm on unification of command structure before graduation of national army.
“Before the graduation of forces, the parties should agree on command structure and the agreement on the command structure is very important and second to that it is the parliament to pass the security bills,” Baluang said from the capital Juba.
“There are very crucial and important tentative that must be there if we want free, fair and transparent elections that will lead to stability of South Sudan,” Baluang added.
Baluang stressed need for the parties to implement security arrangements in letter and spirit before elections could be held.
“The security arrangements have to be implemented fully in letter and spirit. When we talk of the security arrangements here, we do not only mean the graduation of forces, we mean stability, and we mean security all over South Sudan,” Baluang said.
“We mean there will be freedom of human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of association, these are very important for people of South Sudan to conduct their rights according to the constitution without any fear and intervention or pressure,” he added.
He stressed the need to restore stability in order to pave way for repatriation of refugees to their homes
“There is need for permanent constitution in South Sudan and we have a large number of refugees around the region in Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Central Africa and Ethiopia. There is need for return of all these refugees to take part in the elections and there is also a need to conduct census,” he said.
The 2018 revitalize peace deal on resolution of conflict provides for the unification of the rival forces to form the first professional national army consisting of 83,000 soldiers drawn from the rival South Sudan parties and the country’s national army, South Sudan People’s Defense Force.
These troops will make up police, army, and intelligence and prisons services.
But the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity formed in February 2020 has in the past months continued to blame the unified forces graduation’s delay on financial constraints.
Until now, there is no clear date on when to graduate the unified forces as stipulated in the 2018 peace deal.