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Govt invites new Somali president to peace forces graduation ceremony

Author: Chany Ninrew | Published: June 10, 2022

Vice President Taban Deng Gai delivers a speech at the inauguration ceremony of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud. |9th June 2022. |Credit: Office of the Vice President.

The Vice President for Infrastructure Cluster Taban Deng Gai has invited the newly elected president of Somalia to attend the graduation ceremony of the unified forces scheduled for this month.

Taban Deng Gai, who headed a South Sudan delegation to Mogadishu to attend the swearing in ceremony of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, told the inauguration ceremony that his government has made progress in the 2018 peace agreement.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony in the Somalian capital on Thursday, Gai said the unity government in Juba has reached an important milestone on the security arrangement.

“Your Excellency, on this gracious occasion, may i bring you good news from South Sudan, that our parties to the agreement and our able president Salva Kiir Mayardit agreed on the unification of forces and command structure,” said the vice president.

On Thursday, the Co-Chair of the Joint Defense Board revealed that the graduation of more than 50,000 unified forces will take place at the end of this month.

General Garang Ayii Akol told Eye Radio, a Joint Defense Mechanism meeting scheduled for Monday will decide on the exact date of the graduation.

Vice President Taban Deng said in the event, that President Kiir invites newly sworn-in President Sheikh Mohamud for the graduation day of the peace forces, to be scheduled on Monday.

“This part of the security sector reform was the most difficult part of the agreement to implement. these forces will be graduated soon, and his excellency President Salva Kiir invites all head of states and governments for the graduation ceremony that will take place very soon,” Taban said.

“So we wish to see you in Juba very soon so that you share with us the celebration of that day. Somalia and the countries of IGAD have helped us broker peace in South Sudan, which is working today,” he added.

Vice President Gai said South Sudan and Somalia have shared history and strong bilateral relations based on mutual respect and non-interference on each other’s internal affairs.

He also thanked the outgoing president Mohammed Farmajo for having been ‘continuously’ honoring his government’s invitations to attend important South Sudanese events since independence.

The 2018 revitalized peace deal expects the unity government to graduate 83,000 unified forces drawn from the various parties to take charge of security during the ongoing transitional period.

Tens of thousands of forces have been assembled and trained at various cantonment sites and training centers across the country since 2020.

Dozens of trainees are reported to have died of starvation and sickness in cantonment and training sites as they awaited the graduation that never comes.

The government also made a number of failed pledges to graduate the forces, but factors such as insufficient funding, lack of political will among the peace parties, the recently imposed arms embargo and allegations of many ranks in the opposition forces are said to be complicating the efforts.

 

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