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JUBA - 2 May 2021

South Sudan to graduate unified forces in May

South Sudan Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs, Angelina Teny
South Sudan Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs, Angelina Teny

The South Sudan government has said it is planning to graduate the unified forces before 31 May. 

The plan comes amidst new conditions the UN Security Council (UNSC) is setting, demanding that the government complete implementation of key provisions in the peace agreement before the end of May.

The UNSC says the security sector transformation, completion of transitional security arrangement, redeployment plans of the necessary unified forces, and graduation of unified forces must be accomplished before the end of this May.

The government says it is currently putting down strategies to ensure successful graduation of the unified forces next month and that the unification of command of the various forces from parties that signed the 2018 peace deal is also ongoing.

Speaking to journalists during a press conference in Juba on Friday, the Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs, Angelina Teny, said “We cannot afford to not graduate these forces. I want to emphasize that it is the agreement itself. It is the future of the stability of this country. And it is what will give us lasting peace in this country. And we see to it that these forces are going to graduate before May 31st.”

Early this yearPresident Salva Kiir and his five deputies had agreed to graduate the first batch of the unified forces despite lack of sufficient equipment. 

According to the 2018 revitalized peace deal, South Sudan is supposed to train and graduate 83,000 personnel to take charge of security during the transitional period but the unification of the army has been delayed with some government officials citing the existing arms embargo imposed by the United Nations and the United States as being the obstacle.

The UN Security Council is expected to renew or lift an arms embargo on South Sudan on 31 May but that will be determined by the achievements and progress made in the peace implementation.

The soldiers have been undergoing training since late 2019.