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VIP Protection Force assembles near Juba

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2019

SSPDF soldiers stand in a parade near Juba, South Sudan | Credit | Eye Radio

More than 400 soldiers have arrived in Juba to undergo training as part of the VIP Protection Unit, the SPLA-IO has said.

According to the deputy spokesperson, Colonel Lam Paul, the selected soldiers will join the SSPDF to make up a total of 3,000 VIP protection officers.

The VIP Protection Unit will be in charge of providing security to officials of the revitalized Transitional National Government of Unity.

In June this year, the parties agreed to a 12,000 VIP protection unit which is part of the 83,000 Necessary Unified Force.

The Joint Defense Board agreed to a request to increase the number of the VIP protection unit to a division.

A division comprises of up to 12,000 soldiers.

The unit is drawn from the SSPDF, the SPLA-IO and forces from the Opposition Alliance.

They shall operate under the Presidency.

This is in line with the permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements enshrined in chapter two of the revitalized peace agreement.

The JDB shall also exercise command and control over all forces during the pre-transitional period.

Colonel. Lam told Eye Radio on Wednesday that the forces have already assembled near Luri in Juba.

“They are for the national security and unified army that will be deployed as soon as possible -to make sure that the government is formed according to the agreement,” he affirmed.

Efforts to canton and train forces have been slow since the extension of the pre-transitional period in May this year.

There are 35 cantonment sites identified by the Joint Defense Board across the country.

According to the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), 10 sites have been occupied by the SSPDF, 24 sites have been occupied by opposition forces, while one site in Renk remains unoccupied.

But in its latest report, the body says they have received reports of lack of basic supplies for the troops assembled in those areas.

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