South Sudan: Training of VIP protection forces still to commence despite deadline

By Deng Machol

Riek Machar.Photo Credit AFP

Juba – South Sudan ceasefire monitor body says the training of the VIP protection forces has not yet commenced despite the pre – transitional deadline, something that sets a fragile peace deal in peril.

Major Gen. Desta Abiche Ageno, Chairman of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement, Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), says it is concerned about the “slow progress” in the training of the VIP protection forces and the registration of forces as the deadline approaches.

The Joint Military Ceasefire Commission has been working hard to register forces in the cantonment sites across since months ago, but Gen. Abiche says it is not yet complete at all sites.

“CTSAMVM observes that no training of the necessary unified forces – including the VIP protection force has taken place,” said Gen. Abiche, during the last, 16th CTSAMVM technical committee meeting in Juba on Tuesday.

3000 members of a VIP protection force would have supposed to be trained at now before November 12.

Of recently, President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar disagreed on the formation of a unity government by November 12.

Both Machar, and Lam Akol, leader National Democratic Movement called for further delays to all the signatories to the shaky peace deal to complete the outstanding issues of security arrangements and determination of number of states and boundaries.

But, the UNSC says there should be no more extensions……. the remaining issues of the number of states, the boundaries and other things can be discussed by inclusive South Sudanese government.

The other signatories insisted that the unity government must be formed by November 12 and outstanding issues addressed later.

However, the Ceasefire monitor body says the lack of sufficient logistic support to cantonment sites – especially food and medicine, has not been addressed and the CTSAMVM is observing many of those registered forces now leaving designated sites including MirMir, Kendila, Sue, Ngo Alimah and Pantiit respectively.

35 cantonment sites have been identified across the country by the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission to cantoned the rival forces, a move in line with a new peace deal

The cantonment is a critical foundation in enabling the security arrangements to be in place, but progress toward full cantonment before 12 November is now far behind schedule, said Gen. Abiche.

The ceasefire has been, and continue to be successful as there have been no clashes between the parties to the revitalized peace agreement for over a year, something the ceasefire monitor says it is a ‘major achievement’ and one for which the parties must be commended.’

Major Gen. Rabi Mujung Emmanuel, government representative says they are working toward the training of the VIP protection before the November 12.

“Government will response positively and the security mechanism could be in place [before the formation of a unity government],” said Mujung.

In May, the two principals agreed to form a unity government in six months and again, in September, due to the unfinished security arrangements, among others, further reiterated that they will establish a unity transitional government by November 12 as part of the deal.

The fragile deal has stalled due to lack finances to fund the security arrangements, disarmament and integration of the army.

South Sudan secured independence from north Sudan in 2011 after decades of a scorched – earth civil war that has killed two million lives but descended into its own conflict in late 2013 after president Kiir sacked Dr. Machar as vice president.

With latest peace deal, the warring leaders are trying to ending the country’s five – year conflict that has uprooted four million people from their homes and ruined the country’s economy.

With just a two weeks to the pre – transitional deadline, the parties have failed to train half of 83,000 troops needed for the national army, national security and the police services.

The region and international community is mounting pressure on the South Sudanese warring parties’ leaders to agree on outstanding issues and form a unity government by November 12, with no delays.

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