Some 52,000 cadets graduated in the first phase graduation in the unification of forces in South Sudan.
The unification of forces is part of the implementation of the 2018 peace agreement, which sought a unified command of the country’s armed forces.
The ceremony was led by South Sudan President Slava Kiir and was attended by the First Vice President Riek Machar, the four other vice presidents, military leaders, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and Maj Gen (Rtd) Charles Gituai of RJMEC, among other leaders.
The graduation is being done in phases because the training centres are spread across the country and is difficult to access some of them because of the floods, South Sudan presidency said.
“The first batch cadets are from training centres in parts of the Greater Equatoria. The graduation of the other cadets in Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile will follow,” it said in a statement.
Coming four years after the signing of the revitalised peace agreement, President Kiir said out of all the chapters of the deal, the graduation of the unified forces under Chapter 2 has been the most challenging and yet the most important.
” It is our ability to reduce the trust gap that has brought us to this day (of graduation of 1st batch of NUFs). Once again, my brothers and sister, I thank you all and I encourage all of us to continue with that spirit,” he said at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum.
Having realised the mistakes since the signing of the deal in September 2018, Kiir called for cooperation among parties towards the roadmap for peaceful and democratic end to the transitional period of the agreement.
While commending the people and leadership of South Sudan, JMEC Gituai said there is still a long way to go to attain full unification of forces, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ineligible candidates for the unification.
“We expect this momentum to be maintained and Phase II of unification to commence as quickly as possible,” Gituai said.
President Museveni congratulated the people of South Sudan for the milestone.
“Peace is an enabler of progress; hence we must build states based on interests rather than identity,” he said.