South Sudan fails to deploy 52,000 unified forces due to disagreement

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South Sudan

South Sudan’s transitional government has failed to deploy the first batch of 52,000 unified forces due to disagreement over the ratio of the army command structure, an official said Friday.

The main opposition group, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) led by First Vice President Riek Machar, is insisting on a 50 per cent share of the command structure, which includes other opposition parties, said Lul Ruai Koang, spokesman of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces.

“We have not yet overcome the issue of command ratio, the positions that were allocated to SPLM/A-IO were rejected,” Koang told Xinhua in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

In August 2021, the relevant parties appeared to have reached an agreement on the army command structure, with 60 percent assigned to the SPLM-In Government led by President Salva Kiir and 40 percent to opposition parties.

Koang also disclosed that the deployment plans for the first batch of unified forces who completed their training in August 2022 have been delayed due to the lack of funding.

Charles Tai Gituai, the chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, a body established to track the implementation of the peace deal, said on Thursday that although food and other supplies have been procured to the training centers, there is no new progress regarding the redeploying the first phase of the unified forces or commencing the second phase of unified forces training.

Minister of Cabinet Affairs Elia Lomuro said that soldiers are reporting to their respective training centers and security agencies are compiling deployment lists in order to complete the deployment process.

Under the 2018 revitalized peace agreement, South Sudan is supposed to graduate a total of 83,000 unified forces including police, army and intelligence units.

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