SSPDF forces composed of smaller percentage of NUFs than opposition forces: UN experts

Former rival forces posing for a group picture at one of their training centers/ Photo: File

May 2, 2020 (Thessherald)–Members of the Panel of Experts on South Sudan extended pursuant to Security Council Resolution [2471] have released groundbreaking findings on the status of the implementation of peace agreement.

In a report dated April 28, 2020, the Panel of Experts stated that the SSPDF forces at various training centers represent a much smaller percentage of the Neccesary Unified Forces (NUFs) compared to other opposition forces.

“On 12 February 2020, a document of the Joint Transitional Security Committee that the Panel had reviewed indicated that the total number of soldiers of the necessary unified forces present in 17 of the 18 established training centres amounted to 45,436, or just over half the full force size of 83,000 specified in the agreement,” said the Panel of Experts in its report.

Adding that, “ The SSPDF soldiers at the training centres comprised a significantly smaller percentage of the necessary unified forces than the opposition soldiers.”

The committee noted that based on conversations they had with senior military officers, the number of forces was incomplete.

“On the basis of conversations with political and military representatives of the signatories to the revitalized peace agreement, including SSPDF, the Panel assesses that the creation of the 83,000-strong necessary unified forces is incomplete.”

The Panel of Experts analyzed that based on testimonies and evidence gathered from those training centres, senior government and opposition commanders had secretly hidden a number of lethal weapons.

“According to multiple corroborated testimonies from both SSPDF and SPLM/A-IO, many key commanders instructed their forces to remain outside of the security reunification process, retain their weapons and stand ready to re-engage in active fighting, contrary to articles 2.2.2 and 2.2.3.3 of the Revitalized Peace Agreement.”

“The security integration and screening process has been flawed. The absence of biometric screening procedures and the insufficient number of registration forms distributed to the cantonment and barrack sites have contributed to a slow and disorganized process. For instance, the Panel has corroborated information that some individuals whose names are on the registration rolls do not exist.”

“In other cases, civilians joined the cantonment process in the hopes of being assigned to certain ranks and receiving associated economic benefits, such as salaries and pensions.”

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