Tut Gatluak, Head of the National Transitional Committee
The parties to the South Sudan peace agreement plan to set a detailed timetable for the graduation of the first batch of the unified forces at training centres, a senior official said.
The graduation of the unified armed forces is a necessary step in the fulfilment of the agreement’s chapter on security arrangements.
President Salva Kiir announced on Tuesday the creation of a unified armed forces command, implementing a key provision of the 2018 peace deal that observers hope will ease the country’s recovery from years of civil war.
The peace deal calls for the establishment of unified forces made up of 83,000 soldiers to take charge of security during the transitional period. The parties agreed to graduate 50,000 forces in the first phase.
Speaking to reporters in Juba on Thursday, Tut Gatluak, Head of the National Transitional Committee (NTC), said: “The delay in the graduation of the armed forces in the past years was because of lack of political will. There is political will now to graduate the unified forces after the president resolved the matter, and the parties agreed on the unified command structure.”
Tut, who is also a presidential adviser on security affairs, further said the unified command of the armed forces will next week develop a clear timeline for the graduation of the unified forces.
“I want to say that there is no disagreement on the graduation of the unified forces. The disagreement on the unified command structure has already been resolved,” he said.
“I also want to tell our forces that be ready for the graduation. After the Easter holidays, the timetable will be ready for the graduation of the first batch and then we will proceed with the second batch,” he added.
The senior official reiterated the unity government’s commitment to implement the security arrangements as stipulated in the 2018 peace agreement.
“The graduation of the armed forces is a technical issue that will not take time. The forces will be graduated and deployed despite the fact that the country is under UN sanctions,” Tut concluded.