27th January 2021
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Peace soldiers demand answers on their delayed graduation

Author: Garang Abraham Malaak | Published: Wednesday, November 25, 2020

SPLA-IO soldiers in a cantonment site in Equatoria region | Credit | Courtesy

Some soldiers at the military camp near Juba are seeking clarification from the government on when exactly they will graduate.

Those at Rombur training center have raised concerns over the continued postponement of their graduation.

They said they have undergone training and have been waiting for a word on their unification and deployment since 2019.

“What we want is our government and all opposition parties to come and brief us,” a soldier who declined to be named told Eye Radio on Wednesday.

“We are approaching merry Christmas and the new year. We are here suffering at training centers and our children are suffering as well.”

The soldiers are part of the expected unified forces that have been assembled and trained across the country as per the revitalized peace agreement.

Some of their colleagues have reportedly deserted the camps due to a lack of food, logistical, and medical supplies.

The ceasefire monitoring body, CTYSAM-VM, has warned that the cantonment sites were nearing collapse.

One of the trainee at Rombur said they have not been able to support their families since converging at training site last year.

“Now, we here and our families are crying, calling us to help and join them for the New Year and Christmas celebrations,” said another trainee

His concerns are similar to recent anxieties expressed by CTSAMMVM, which also raised fears over soldiers deserting the training sites across the country.

In response, the Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs – Angelina Teny – acknowledged the delayed graduation.

She says the process of graduating the forces is ongoing.

“We have started training the command because you cannot graduate them without having a new command,” Ms Teny stressed.

The Joint Defense Board has confirmed that thousands of soldiers have been trained at various training sites across the country.

But since June, the graduation has been postponed three times in what the army described as “logistical challenges”.

On Monday, the head of secretariat of the Joint Transitional Security Committee asked the parties to avail $80 million it had requested for the unification of the national army, national security service, police, prisons, fire brigade and wildlife services.

“Our budget was 93 million US dollars to unify and train all the forces of South Sudan. We got 9 to 10 million only,” Major General Olaw Adiang stated.

He argued that this would facilitate the graduation of thousands of former government and opposition troops gathered in various training camps – awaiting deployment.

The revitalized peace agreement requires the cantonment, screening, and training of 83,000 Necessary Unified Forces to safeguard the peace deal.

The accord said unifying the forces will provide security guarantees for the transitional government of national unity, unlike in 2016 when the forces were divided.

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