south sudan government and rival resume talks towards unified command

South Sudan government and rival resume talks towards unified command

President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, and his deputy have shaken hands, signing an agreement on Sunday in an attempt to ease political conflict in the country and re-commit to peace deal in the East African country. In this direction, the agreement is aimed towards unification of security forces command. Recent days have seen increased instances of clashes between government troops and forces that are loyal to Vice President Riek Machar, raising concerns over another round of extreme fighting in looming.

The agreement signed on Sunday calls for establishing a unified structure in country’s security services, including police and the army. The division of command would be 60 – 40, with distribution favoring President Kiir.

The signing ceremony of the agreement was in presence of both President Kiir and Vice President Machar in Juba, capital city of South Sudan. “This is to inform everyone that we have agreed to unify the military command. We are for peace and that all of us should strive for peace,” said Tut Gatluak, a presidential advisor on national security.

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Next week opposition generals will be appointed to form a unified command framework. After that graduating SPLM/A-IO (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition) soldiers from training centres will be integrated into the army. “We must implement what we say. The people of South Sudan expect that from us,” said Martin Gama Abucha, an SPLM/A-IO representative, after the agreement signing.

In 2018, Kiir and Machar aligned forces had signed a peace agreement that had brought an end to the five years long civil war, in which tens and thousands of civilians were killed in South Sudan. But the terms and conditions of peace deal were slow to implement leading to frequent clashes between the forces over power sharing. The civil war in South Sudan, that was fought from 2013 to 2018, was on lines of ethnicity and claimed approximately 400,000 lives. The civil war was catastrophic, triggering a famine and led to biggest refugee crisis in Africa after Rwanda genocide in 1994.