The recent changes within the top leadership of the South Sudan army (SSPDF) by President Salva Kiir have disrupted efforts to graduate the first batch of the unified forces.
Lam Paul Gabriel, ministry of defense spokesperson said the sacking of Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) Johnson Juma Okot last week, replacing him with Santino Deng Wol has put brakes on the implementation of the security arrangement.
“The pending tasks on the security arrangement are paused due to the new SSPDF deployments and are expected to be completed by the new army chief,” Gabriel told Xinhua in Juba on Wednesday.He, however, did not divulge details on whether training of soldiers in the training centers has been halted.
“As far as security is concerned we just received new deployments, the chairperson (Okot) was relieved and now we have a new chief of defense forces who is going to become the chairperson of the Joint Defense Board (JDB),” said Gabriel.
Under the 2018 revitalized peace deal, JDB is the body charged with overseeing security reforms in the country. In addition, the peace deal calls for the establishment of unified forces made up of 83,000 soldiers to take charge of security during the three-year transitional period.
Meanwhile, Kiir also sacked Reuben Malek, deputy minister of defense and veterans affairs replacing him with Chol Thon Balok.
In addition, he also sacked the director-general of external intelligence Thomas Duoth, replacing the latter with Simon Yien Makuac.
“We are waiting for him (Deng) to take his office then he has to call the first meeting to be briefed on what has happened since the start of implementation of the security arrangement until now. From here the CDF will then come up with a decision on what to do next,” said Gabriel.
Gabriel said the number of soldiers supposed to form the first batch of unified forces to be graduated is still unknown due to the desertion of several soldiers from these training centers, mainly because of lack of food, safe water and medicines