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Angelina Teny, former minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs(R) with civil society groups during security sector symposium.

Lawyers call for speedy unification of forces ahead of elections

Lawyers under the South Sudan Law Society on Friday called on the transitional unity government to speed up unification of armed forces ahead of the 2024 elections.

“Most importantly is the unification and deployment of unified forces, considering the fact that we are preparing for election, elections need to be secured by national army, not an army that is affiliated to any political party,” Gasper Amule Wani, the program manager for South Sudan Law Society said in an interview in Juba.

 He was speaking on the sidelines of the two -day security sector training at Palm Africa Hotel.

 “If forces are aligned to a political party they are likely to be inclined to defend interests of that political party, which means we are likely to have violent elections. Let us unify the forces so that we delink them from politics,” Wani said.

The two days security sector training was organized by South Sudan Law Society in collaboration with Community Empowerment for Progress Origination (CEPO) with support from the African Security Sector Network.

In August 2022, the parties to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement agreed to 24 months extension to pave way for enactment of the permanent constitution, enactment of electoral laws and institutions.

The transitional government has so far foreseen the graduation of the first batch of 53,000 unified forces comprising of police, wildlife, national security service, prisons and the military.

Wani said the peace agreement provides clear road map for security sector reforms in South Sudan, adding that since the signing of the peace agreement there has been relative improvement in security.

“We need to ensure that our security services have necessary resources all the way from incentives and in terms of salary that is commensurate to the living standards in South Sudan,” he said.

“There are sporadic incidents of insecurity and violence here and there but generally the ceasefire is holding among the parties, we need to restructure security institutions in terms of their capacity to deliver security services that we need,” he added.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the minister of presidential affairs on Thursday, said they are soon embarking on the training of the second phase of unified forces.

However, he noted that the recently extended arms embargo and targeted sanctions by the UN Security Council on government and military officials is hampering speedy implementation of the security arrangements.

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