I’m waiting on you to deploy forces, Kiir tells Machar
President Salva Kiir appealed to First Vice President Riek Machar to submit a list of names of the officers for the deployment of unified forces, arguing the process has dragged because of the long wait.
Addressing the SPLM members during the swearing-in ceremony of the party officials on Thursday, Kiir said he was waiting for the SPLM-IO leader to submit the names, and the process would take off immediately the peace partners comply.
“I have told Dr. Riek, who is the leader of SPLM-IO, to bring me the list of his officers so that I can confirm [them] into the SSPDF so that they can be deployed, but he did not,” Kiir said.
“We have graduated unified forces, but they are not deployed; they are not deployed because their officers are not commissioned—they are not given ranks,” he said.
“If we push them for deployment, where will they get their commanding officers?” The head of state further posed
“And if we give them our commissioned officers, the opposition may not accept it; they will look at it as if we are robbing them.”
Albeit Kiir said that he would continue to wait for Machar to act.
“Anyone among them (Machar and the deputy chief of defence forces) who will bring the list, I will receive and confirm them (military officers), and after I am done with this deployment of forces, it will happen,” he said.
The head of state was categorically clear that his only fear is that some people may turn to military generals in a short time, which may not be sustainable.
“We have no argument in regards to the deployment of forces, but my problem is that some [people] who left a few days ago or tomorrow will return as generals; for one to be general, there are many procedures that you cannot meet in two or three months. It is not possible, but we have accepted it for the sake of peace,” he said, adding that he would give the necessary ranks.
“If it is an issue of rank, we will handle it,” he promised. He said the process would be transparent without arm-twisting.
However, when contacted for comment, the Acting Press Secretary in the Office of First Vice President Puok Baluang said that President Kiir and First Vice President Machar did not reach agreement on the commissioning of officers.
“There is a need to discuss and agree on the allocation of the second [batch] of the unified forces. Until the structures have been agreed upon by the parties, this is when we can send the names of our representatives, but now the president cannot just request names so that he can allocate,” he said.
He stated that there are still more discussions around the list of those to be commissioned that need both President Kiir and Machar to sit down and agree.
South Sudan graduated around 50,000 necessary unified forces in the first batch of the exercise. The group has yet to be deployed. Another group is supposed to be taken for training ahead of their graduation to make 83,000 forces settled by the peace partners.