EDITORIAL: Graduation of forces crucial; gov’t must not sleep on it
On April 3, 2022, President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Dr Riek Machar, and Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi reached a deal that resolved the long dispute that delayed the ratification command structure.
The leaders agreed to expedite the graduation of forces and resolved that the graduation would take place within two months, with effect from April 3.
About 50,000 joint forces have already completed the training, but they are yet to graduate to form part of the necessary unified forces.
Unfortunately, there is only one day left to the end of the two-month deadline agreed upon by the leaders, and the forces are likely to wait for a long time. This is based on the fact that a new deadline may be in the offing. When the City Review contacted SSOA Spokesperson, Brig. Samuel Chan, yesterday, revealed that the process for the graduation of the unified forces had not been completed due to some logistical challenges. This implies that the trainees may have to wait a long time as the Joint Defence Board and other relevant bodies put the last nails in certain places to actualise the process.
The complete implementation of Chapter Two of the peace agreement is the way to bring a lasting peace agreement. There was a celebration after the parties agreed on the unified army command because it defused the tensions in Juba. But the graduation of the unified forces now seems to be the most difficult to accomplish.
The experience has shown that signing an agreement is easier but the implementation is another challenge. The leaders should take the unified command structure they signed on April 3 very seriously to meet the dreams of the citizens for a stable country.
They need to demonstrate to the citizens that this revitalised peace agreement is not only about power-sharing but delivering peace to the citizens. This can only be achieved if there is a national army that is obliged to protect the constitution instead of the individuals.
The country is preparing to go for an election before the end of the transitional period as per the agreement. However, talking about an election when the forces are still not unified under one command is a dream of failure.
After missing the two-month deadline, the leaders should expedite the process for the graduation of the unified forces. The forces have been waiting for a long time, despite completing the training over one year ago.