South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with South Sudan's exiled rebel leader Riek Machar in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Sept. 9, 2019. Riek Machar arrived in Juba on Monday for face-to-face talks with President Salva Kiir. President Kiir and Machar are expected to discuss and reevaluate progress and challenges facing the revitalized peace deal they signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia to end more than five years of conflict. (Xinhua Denis Elamu)
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with South Sudan's exiled rebel leader Riek Machar in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Sept. 9, 2019. Riek Machar arrived in Juba on Monday for face-to-face talks with President Salva Kiir. President Kiir and Machar are expected to discuss and reevaluate progress and challenges facing the revitalized peace deal they signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia to end more than five years of conflict. (Xinhua Denis Elamu)

South Sudan said on Tuesday it has already completed screening of 19,000 troops in the Central Equatorial region as it speeds up unification of the army under the 2018 peace deal.

Olaw Adaing, head of the Secretariat of the Joint Transitional Security Committee, disclosed that they have completed screening of the soldiers after undergoing training in four training centers in the region.

“The screening of soldiers has been going on for the last seven days. About 19,000 soldiers are expected to graduate from the Central Equatoria region,” Adaing told journalists in Juba.

He disclosed that 7,000 soldiers have already been screened in Rajaf training center, 2,000 in Lologo, over 900 in Rambuor area, in addition to the screening of 3,500 VIP protection force in Gorom training center.

At least 83,000 unified forces are expected to form the national army, but the training process had been delayed due to lack of food and medicines.

The unified forces are expected to take charge of security during the three-year transitional period.

The training of the unified forces started early this year, across all the cantonment sites but had been disrupted since March by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adaing said more soldiers will come from training centers in Upper Nile and Bhar El Ghazal regions.

He acknowledged that some soldiers who had earlier deserted the training centers over lack of food and medicines have since started returning after they commenced the screening process.

“Those who have deserted have come back since they heard of the screening taking place,” he said.

President Salva Kiir and his First Vice President Riek Machar in February formed the transitional unity government but are still yet to complete establishing the transitional parliament and security arrangements.

According to observers, the full implementation of the security arrangement is crucial to building trust and confidence to avert a repeat of the July 2016 renewed clashes that collapsed the 2015 peace deal.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, after President Kiir sacked his deputy Machar, who later founded the SPLM-IO, leading to fights between soldiers loyal to their respective leaders.

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