Be patient, graduation now close: SSPDF tells trainees
The South Sudan People’s Defence Force’s (SSPDF) general headquarters has called on trainees waiting for graduation to be patient.
Bilpham said the two-month preparation timeline of the April 3 agreement had not elapsed, hence, the need to give the government time to organise the graduation.
In an exclusive interview with The City Review yesterday, the SSPDF spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai said the graduation would take place as agreed by the principals and that no forces would be set free before the graduation is done.
Lul was reacting to a demand by some individual trainees at Mapel Joint Training Centre in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, calling on the government to allow them to go and cater for their families. The trainees argued that they would come back for the graduation when it is due.
“We had completed the training a long time ago and are ready for graduation. We are in the rainy season, our children are tired at home and we are tired at the training centre.”
“I am a soldier and I have to endure the situation, but, it should not be to this level; it should not be for hunger where there is no food, no money for my family and no graduation. This is too much. You can come and see this situation by yourself. There is no food at all,” Eye Radio quoted Garang, a trainee at Mapel Training Centre.
‘‘Ready to leave’’
He continued “We just want the government to graduate us so that we can go back to our children. We cannot stay here for nearly four years, the government is unable to do the graduation, we do not understand why.’’
In response, Gen. Lul clarified that the SSPDF rules and regulations do not allow such but permission could be granted to an individual who would want to go and attend to a pressing issue in his or her family.
“Such request is not possible. You cannot permit all trainees to go and come back when they are needed, no! It cannot happen like that,” Maj. Gen. Lul said.
“According to the SSPDF rules and regulations, one asks for permission as an individual and is allowed to go and come back.”
He added “It is not there that all the soldiers are permitted to go. It does not happen like that.”
About 50,000 joint forces have completed the training since 2020 were yet to graduate to form part of the 83,000 necessary unified forces provided for by Chapter Two of the revitalized peace agreement.
The dire situation at the training centres, coupled with several unfulfilled promises to graduate, has forced close to half of the joint trainees to leave in search of food, water, medicine, and shelter, according to the peace monitoring mechanism.
Recently, President Salva Kiir and First Deputy Dr Riek Machar, as well as Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi reached a deal, resolving long-standing disputes over command structure and agreeing to graduate the first batch of the necessary unified forces within two months with effect from April 3.
“When Sunday, April 3 agreement was signed, the presidency had agreed that the graduation of forces shall be expedited so that the graduation takes place within two months from the date of signing the agreement. So, we are hoping that [the graduation] will be around that time, “Gen. Lul said.