Security clause now harder to implement in South Sudan

Monday May 02 2016

Rebel troops of the Sudan People's Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) unload their weapons at their military site in Juba on April 25, 2016. PHOTO | AFP

Security has proven to be the most difficult to implement out of the eight issues in the South Sudan peace agreement.

Apart from the frequent violation of the ceasefire, the demilitarisation of Juba and the cantonment of the former fighting forces in designated areas has been complicated with suspicion between the two opposition camps and lack of funds.

The main area of controversy has been the deployment of all forces from Juba within the 25km radius which according to the peace agreement ought to have been done within 90 days from August.

Dr Riek Machar had attributed his long-delayed return to Juba after signing the peace agreement eight months ago to the inability of the government to withdraw the extra troops from the capital, while the government has been citing a lack of funds to set up camps and feed the soldiers.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) transported 1,570 soldiers to its camp in Jebel Kujur, in southern Juba. The security arrangement workshop held in Addis Ababa in October 2015 decided that only 8,000 troops will remain in Juba as presidential guards and joint integrated police.

SPLM-IO is supposed to retain 2,910 while the government will retain 5,000, including presidential guards. The chief of general staff, Gen Paul Malong Awan, early this month visited the SPLM-IO troops in Jebel Kujur, and reminded the former rebels that they are now part of the national army and should co-operate with the rest.


Ruth Feeney, Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) communications officer, said the process of verifying the redeployment of SPLA soldiers outside Juba is still ongoing and the organisation will only issue a comprehensive statement once the verification exercise is complete.

But the biggest challenge will be the integration of the two forces still engaged in skirmishes in some areas such as Bahr-el-Ghazal and Western Equatoria. 

The agreement provides that the country will have a single, shared, unified command — two commanders-in-chief and a joint chief of general staff — until the two armies are integrated into the National Defence Forces of South Sudan (NDFSS) within 18 months.

According to the agreement, the Security Review Board is in charge of reviewing the state of security in the country and the reforms to be undertaken, as well as establishing the total number needed in the army and the ratio of ethnic composition. 

Jacob Chol, head of the Political Science Department at the University of Juba, said that the integration of the two armies is going to be a major challenge because nobody know the exact number of SPLA soldiers — estimates range from 300,000 to 500,000, while Dr Machar had also carried out recruitment during the war complete with promotions.

Mr Chol said that the other challenge is that most of the former militias that have been progressively incorporated into the SPLA are still loyal to ethnic leaders and commanders.

Currently, the biggest worry is that David Yau Yau, the leader of the Cobra Squad militia group that last year made peace with the government, is likely to launch new rebellion if he is not accommodated within the new security arrangement.