South Sudan warring parties agree to speed up forming unified force

JUBA, Sept 11
(Xinhua/GNA) – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and visiting rebel leader
Riek Machar on Monday agreed to speed up screening and registration of their
forces that will form the unified 83,000 force to provide security in the
country.

Henry Odwar, deputy
head of the main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In
Opposition (SPLM-IO), led by Machar, said the latter’s arrival in Juba for
face-to-face talks with Kiir had helped speed up the security arrangements that
included cantonment of forces.

“Machar today
arrived in Juba and that’s a sign of commitment to peace. Today our meeting
concentrated on security arrangements because it’s one of the fundamental
provisions of this agreement,” Odwar told journalists in the capital.

“We deliberated
on how we can fast-track so that the necessary forces of 83,000 will be
realized before Nov. 11. Yes, we do have challenges and we pray that we
overcome those challenges,” he added.

Cabinet Affairs
Minister of South Sudan Martin Elia Lomuro said the latest development
indicated that they would be able to form the much-awaited transitional unity
government by Nov. 12.

The warring parties
failed to form the transitional unity government in May and both agreed to a
six-month extension with only three months remaining amid regional and
international concern over delays.

“Cantonment is
progressing very well, we have 20 cantonment sites in progress, forces are
being screened, registered and we are fast-tracking them as soon as this group
is screened and divided into army, national security and police,” said
Lomuro.

He disclosed that
they had set a minimum standard of at least forming a force of 41,000 if they
failed to arrive at the expected 83,000 force they earlier agreed upon.

“What we want
to do is to have a force that is ready for the government to be formed by Nov.
12,” he said.

“We have
contributed 33 million U.S. dollars, we have brought food from Khartoum, we are
transporting them to cantonment areas. Teams have gone down with registration
forms, money to buy local food for emergencies,” said Lomuro.

South Sudan
descended into conflict in December 2013 after Kiir sacked his deputy Machar
leading to fighting between soldiers loyal to the respective leader.

The conflict killed
tens of thousands and displaced millions both internally and externally.

A peace deal signed
in 2015 collapsed after outbreak of renewed violence in July 2016 forcing
Machar to flee the capital.

Under the 2018 peace
deal, Machar will take up one of the four vice presidency positions in the
transitional government.

GNA

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