We still have backlog of forces waiting for graduation – Machar
The office of the First Vice President, Riek Machar, now wants speedy enrolment of thousands of forces in cantonment sites into training centres as a sure way of ultimately having the forces under the President Salva Kiir as the only Commanded-in-Chief.
Puok Both Baluang, the deputy spokesperson of the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, said owing to the terms of the peace agreement, a speedy training of the forces would help the country make strides in having a unified force.
According to the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), the President, First Vice President, and SSOA Vice president, will command their forces until the graduation of forces, after which they will now be under the command of the president.
“There are more forces including from SPLM/IO yet to be graduated. They are waiting for phase 2 or maybe phase 3. They are a considerable group,” said Baluang, in response to the question of whether SPLA-IO were all in the training centres awaiting graduation or others were yet to join the training centers.
Still more to be done
“It is true that all the graduated forces are no more receiving orders from their former respective parties – SPLM/A (IO), ITGONU or SSOA. They are national organised forces charged with the responsibility of protecting our borders, the constitution and the people of South Sudan.”
The Spokesperson of SPLM/A-IO, James Gatdet Dak, released a statement yesterday, saying that President Kiir will command unified forces that are graduated, but will not command those still in cantonment centres.
“The President has become the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Necessary Unified Forces graduated and appointed in Juba on Tuesday. They are over 20,000 in total (first batch) from the peace Parties or various units of all the organized forces,” Gatdet stated.
“But he is not yet the C-in-C of other forces not yet graduated. And he is not yet the C-in-C of the other Phase Two forces who are yet to be taken to training centers and be trained for the next four to six months. They still maintain their separate C-in-Cs as usual unless one has no remaining separate forces yet to be unified.”
He added that much was yet to be completed in order for President to be the C-in-C of all the unified forces including graduating of the two remaining phases.
“We have tens of thousands not yet graduated but will be graduated in the next few days and weeks. We also have tens of thousands more to be taken to training centers as Phase Two and to be unified in the future. On the day they are graduated, they join their colleagues under one command,” Dak argued.
On Tuesday, President Salva Kiir directed the graduated unified forces to take up the task entrusted to them, which is protecting the national flag.
“As the president of the republic, I am your commander in chief. If your commander in chief was SPLM/A-IO Dr. Riek Machar, or Hussein Abdelbagi, or any other unknown commander in chief, they are no more your commander in chief today,” Kiir stated. “I am the only commander in chief, and you will be taking instructions from me personally.
Now you belong to the republic of South Sudan and her people. You must refrain from being a member of any political party. And you must never consider yourself a soldier of any political group,” said President Kiir.”