By FRED OLUOCH, The East African, Posted Saturday, Sept/20/2015, SSN;
Partners in the South Sudan peace agreement meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, agreed on Thursday on the withdrawal of all foreign forces in South Sudan by October 10, but disagreed on the nature of the Joint Integrated Police Unit and the number of presidential guards.
The foreign forces targeted and which will now have to leave or stand down include Uganda People’s Defence Forces who were deployed in Juba after the outbreak of fighting in December 2013 to shore up President Kiir’s government under a special arrangement with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.
Foreign forces: Uganda People’s Defence Forces who were deployed in Juba after the outbreak of fighting. The Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SPLM-North) that are also fighting the Khartoum government in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and the Dafur-based rebels, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Army-Minawi (SLA-MM) and SLA-A led by Abdul Wahid.
Integrated police unit: The government side believes that the police unit will comprise small group of 1,000 to guard the civilians in Juba only, the rebel movement believes that there has to be a new police body where both sides contribute equally depending on the overall number agreed on.
Others are the Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SPLM-North) that are also fighting the Khartoum government in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and the Dafur-based rebels, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Army-Minawi (SLA-MM) and SLA-A led by Abdul Wahid.
The agreement however exempts Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) based in Yambio, Western Equatorial, because they had been deployed in 2010 as part of the African Union Joint Force to pursue Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
On the issue of the presidential guard, the government delegation had demanded 17,000 presidential guards but the Riek Machar-led rebel movement rejected the number arguing that it was too high and that the president could do with about 2,000 to 3,000 presidential guards.
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While the South Sudanese ambassador to Kenya, Mariano Deng, could not confirm the government demand without consulting Juba, Dr Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak, said that the government team had demanded an army division between 10,000 and 18,000 soldiers to be deployed in Juba.
According to Mr Dak, the rebel movement favours a battalion of between 300 and 800 soldiers “since the intention is to demilitarise the capital.”
The government had taken advantage of the loophole in the Igad Compromise Peace Agreement which did not give the numbers, leaving it for the partners to negotiate.
The earlier proposal had provided that President Kiir retains 265 presidential guards while the first vice-president-to-be Dr Machar was supposed to have 195 guards.
These latest agreements were arrived at at a workshop on security arrangement that was convened by Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) in Addis Ababa from September 13-17. The parties agreed that the foreign or allied forces should be out of South Sudan within 45 days from the time President Salva Kiir signed the agreement on August 26.
However, there is still a stalemate on the transitional security arrangement which includes the demilitarisation of Juba, key among them being the difference in the concept and the numbers for the Joint Integrated Police Unit to be provided by both sides.
Maj-Gen Martin Kenyi, the deputy Chief of Staff for moral orientation on the rebel side told The EastAfrican that the two sides had different concepts of the Joint Integrated Police unit.
He argued that while the government side believes that the police unit will comprise small group of 1,000 to guard the civilians in Juba only, the rebel movement believes that there has to be a new police body where both sides contribute equally depending on the overall number agreed on.
He added that other armed groups such as the police, wildlife service and prison warders were not included in the agreement and yet a lot of personnel from these security agencies had defected to the rebels’ side when the war broke out.
Spread the force
“We want the Joint Integrated Police unit to be replicated in other major towns such as Bor, Bentiu and Malakal and yet the agreement only considered Juba,” said Maj-Gen Kenyi.
On a positive note however, the two groups agreed on many areas such as the requirement for the two warring sides to declare the position of their fighters and their outlook, set up a shared command including its structure and functions.
The two sides have created a joint Chief of General Staff that will manage the military for 18 months before they are integrated. The joint command will have four deputies, two from each side.
They have also agreed on the cantonment areas where each division in South Sudan will have three assembly areas, especially in states that were affected by war such as Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states. The two sides also constituted the crucial Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism. END