Nov 23, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs, Hon. Angelina Teny, announced on Monday, November 23, that the unification and deployment of the unified forces may delay for a few more months as the government has found some loopholes in the process.
Speaking during a press conference in Juba on Monday morning, Hon. Ateny, said the graduation of the unified forces will not proceed until a batch of commanders [generals] are first trained and deployed to oversee the unification and deployment of the unified forces.
“We are in the process of working with unification of commands. We will start the training of commanders because you can’t graduate without putting in a new command which will now be the transitional security arrangement,” she said.
Mrs. Teny added that the government has managed to secure UN forces to train the commanding officers and that process will begin somewhere next month, December 2020.
“We managed to secure the UN training unit to undertake that process, hopefully they will commence from the 5th of December,” she said.
Hon. Teny did not clarify how long the training of the commanding officers will take; however, regular training of forces and security officers take anywhere between six months to nine months.
The minister said that her administration would like to graduate the currently trained forces, so that the next phase of training can begin but due to lack of commanding officers, the graduation will be paused until the commanders are trained and deployed first.
“Right now, we are in a stage whereby we really feel that these forces should be graduated and deployed so that the next phase can commence,” She said.
“Once training for commands is done, they are unified, and deployed, then now we can start the deployment of unified forces; we can’t bring unified forces and deploy them without the commands,” she explained.
This could mean that the training of the second batch of unified forces may not begin until mid or late next year, 2021.
The SPLM-IO official said that the Joint Transitional Security Committee is screening and putting the unified forces in “scientific forms”.
In September, the head of UNMISS David Shearer urged President Salva Kiir and his First Deputy Dr. Riek Machar to speed up training and unification of armed forces after a slow start amid concerns the timeline may not be met.
Shearer noted at the time that there had been no progress on the critical area of security sector reform regarding the persistent delays in concluding training and graduation of the 83,000 unified forces to take charge of security during the three-year transitional period.
“At the moment, the process (security sector reform) is stuck. It hasn’t even moved past the first stage where forces are trained and graduated. Urgent action is needed to move the peace process forward,” Shearer told journalists in Juba.
South Sudan has had various reasons including the need to remove arms embargo, among others, as the main reasons for not deploying the unified forces.
The forces, who have been stuck in cantonments since late 2018, are facing shortage of basic supplies such as food and medicines.
While some forces have abandoned the training sites, others have succumbed to short illnesses and reported cases of starvations.