Kiir, Machar to meet Museveni over security arrangement

Kiir, Machar to meet Museveni over security arrangement
First Vice President Dr Riek Machar (left) shakes hands with President Salva Kiir Mayardit in a past event. Looking on in the middle is Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. (photo credit: courtesy)

President Salva Kiir and First Deputy Dr Riek Machar are expected to meet in Kampala to resolve the stalemate bedevilling the forces’ contributing ratio.

The two leaders will meet at a retreat to be chaired by President Yoweri Museveni in early 2022 to resolve the matter.

“I believe [President] Museveni talked about this three weeks ago when he made it clear he was going to host a retreat,” the Spokesperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, told The City Review on Wednesday.

Col. Lam had initially revealed this to the media during a joint press conference at Bilpam army headquarters in Juba on Monday.

“About two weeks ago, there was a conference that I am not supposed to talk about, that was held in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

“The principals have agreed that there is going to be a retreat which [is] going to be chaired by President Yoweri Museveni,’’ he added.

Issues at hand        

The SLA-IO official further hinted that the meeting would involve a cocktail of discussions on several issues related to the implementation of security chapters.

“In that retreat, there is going to be an agreement on the ratio of the unified command structure and also on the approach to Kampala, which will happen either in January or February,” said Col. Lam.

When The City Review reached out to the Information Minister and Government Spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, for corroboration, he said: “I am in a meeting now and I cannot speak.”

Much pending

However, until now, parties to the agreement have yet to graduate the first batch of the 93, 000 necessary unified forces provided for in Chapter Two of the peace agreement.

The delay has been occasioned by complex challenges such as financial, logistical, and a lack of consensus on the army’s joint command structure.

According to the September 2018 peace deal, forces were supposed to be registered, screened, trained, and graduated, and redeployed within six months of the signing of the agreement. 

But since the commencement of the transitional government in June 2020, parties have gobbled up a sizeable chunk of the pre-transitional period, leaving less than a year and a half to complete the outstanding tasks.

Both the government and the armed opposition have maintained parallel demands on the establishment of a joint army command as a prerequisite for the forces’ graduation.

In September, armed parties—the SPLM-IG and SPLA-IO—rejected the IGAD’s proposed force contribution ratio, demanding a 50:50 per cent ratio, which President Kiir objected to, maintaining that it should be 60:40 per cent.

The president blamed his first deputy, who he said has not streamlined ranks within the SPLA-IO forces that making it difficult to have an organised army.

According to unconfirmed information, most of the opposition and government forces had few privates and noncommissioned officers (NCOs), with the majority being second and first lieutenants, captains, majors, lieutenant colonels, colonels, brigadiers, major generals, and lieutenant generals.

It also claimed that the officers have rejected demotion to conform to the organisation of the army with few senior officers.

This week, the government released a fund for screening and organisation of about 50, 000 joint training sessions at the training centres across the country that a peace monitoring mechanism has said nearly half have deserted due to hardship.