South Sudan graduates first batch of army instructors

President Kiir of South Sudan

South Sudan on Friday passed out the first batch of army instructors, who are set to commence training of both government and opposition soldiers, to form the unified force of 83,000.

They are to take charge of the country’s security in the three-year transitional period.

Thomas Thomas, a member of the Joint Defense Board, the body charged with the responsibility of reviewing the security sector, said 1,000 officers drawn from country’s People’s Defense Force and opposition groups to train members of unified force.

“We want to thank all those countries that supported us materially because you can see now the uniform they are wearing is donated from Egypt and the food we are eating is a donation from China,“said Thomas.

He urged the Troika group that includes the U.S, Britain and Norway who remained wary of funding the ongoing implementation of the revitalised peace deal to contribute more for its sustainability.

Shailesh Tinaiker, commander of the UN Mission in South Sudan peacekeepers, commended the officers during their graduation ceremony and urged them to work for lasting peace in South Sudan.

“I am very happy to be here at this graduation ceremony of instructors, who will go on to form the unified forces of South Sudan.

“You are the pioneers, your training period has been very short, which is 10 days, but you have a huge responsibility to attain.

“You will be responsible for training the combined and unified forces of South Sudan. You have been selected by your leaders in a project which has a tremendous implication on national integrity and security,“Tinaiker said.

The warring parties failed to form the transitional unity government in May, and both agreed to a six-month extension with only one month remaining before the formation of the much-awaited transitional unity government on Nov. 12.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, held face-to-face talks in early September in Juba and agreed to speed up screening and registration of their forces as they entered the over 30 cantonment sites.

The Inter-governmental Authority on Development, the regional body that mediated on the revitalised peace deal signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia, said recently that the warring parties failed to form the unified force by the Sept. 30 deadline.

South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013, after Kiir sacked his deputy, Machar leading to violent crisis between soldiers loyal to respective leaders.

However, the conflict killed tens of thousands and displaced millions both internally and externally.

Meanwhile, a peace deal signed in 2015 collapsed after the outbreak of renewed violence in July 2016, forcing Machar to flee the capital.

Under the 2018 peace deal, Machar was to take up one of the four vice presidency positions in the transitional government