Why the government faces headache after commencing forces deployment
The government dispatched 750 forces to snake their way to Upper Nile State’s Malakal for the first-ever deployment on Wednesday, kickstarting the process of deploying over 50,000 officers who graduated in 2022.
But as the boats’ engines cool to signal the arrival of the forces, at the entry comes another challenge, which, according to the officials from the army, must be addressed to ensure subsequent deployments and the graduation of the next batch are smooth.
The Spokesperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in-Opposition (IO), Col Lam Paul Gabriel, stated in an interview with The City Review that the deployment of forces will now test the government’s resolve in addressing the plight of the forces and making it an attractive venture.
Lam, who spoke to The City Review at the port facility, said his side would be closely monitoring the government’s commitment during the deployment process.
“The forces have been ready for deployment a long time ago, only that there have been challenges of resources and also a lack of political will,” he said, adding, “But now that we have combatants, being deployed is a very good sign.”
He added: “The reason we say we are keenly watching is that we still have forces in the training centres; we still have forces in the cantonment site who will be coming in, so anything that is being done by these forces will reflect to the cantonment site.”
He said that one of the ways of satisfying the forces is to get them the arms and pay their salaries on time to avoid demoralising the lot that is still in the training centres.
“We are monitoring; not that we do not want them to continue [deployment], but we want them to do this course rightly,” he said.
Despite spending a year on their graduation, some of the members of the necessary unified forces are yet to be paid their salaries. Most of the affected officers were previously attached to SPLA-IO and other opposition parties like SSOA. The Spokesperson of the South Sudan Defence Forces, Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai admitted that some forces were not being remunerated but rubbished the notion that there was discrimination.
On Wednesday, The City Review asked some of the Upper Nile-bound forces whether they had been paid, and they clarified that not all had received their pay.
“I just heard that some forces are being paid and others have not been paid,” one of the officers, whose identity is concealed, said.
Another, whose identity is concealed because they are not authorised to speak, also said: “We have not received even one pound, and I do not understand why we have been sidelined yet we are supposed to be one soldier for one government.”
Lam Paul confirmed that those who received salaries are the SSPDF but the components that come from SPLA-IO and SSOA were not paid he believes that, as promised by the minister of finance, the forces will be paid for three months
“There is a promise from the minister of finance; he made it clear that he is working on their payment,” he said.
The Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Bak Barnaba, while attending the deployment ceremony in Luri Centre, promised the forces that he would start the payment in August 2022.
“Your salary will start in August going forward,” Barnaba said.
He also said that he would cater to the force’s needs, including uniforms, food and logistics.
This is the initial deployment of the unified forces in South Sudan since the nation’s independence.
The forces comprise 52,000 individuals from the first batch of unified forces, which graduated in August of last year.