President Museveni has emphasized peace for South Sudan as the country reach a milestone in its recovery process from the civil war when the first batch of unified forces in the country – the national army and the police services graduated on Tuesday.
Whereas South Sudan formed a unity government in 2020 to end fighting and hostilities between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his first vice president Dr.Riek Machar, the youngest country on the continent was yet to create a unified national army.
However, on Tuesday regional leaders who are guarantors of the peace agreement led by President Museveni witnessed the graduation of the first batch of unified forces.
In his speech, Museveni said there is need to have lasting peace in order for South Sudan to develop, adding that there is need to focus on interests not identity.
“I bring solidarity and congratulations from the brotherly people of Uganda to the people of South Sudan on this landmark milestone, for working in true spirit of the African progressive forces to build the country towards sustainable development based on interests and not identity,” he said.
“The four sectors for economic development are Commercial agriculture, industry, services and ICT. However you need peace to achieve all that.”
Speaking at the same function, South Sudan President, Salva Kiir urged the forces not to pay allegiance to any other leaders but to the country.
“You are not a military wing of any of the parties to the conflict, you are now the first national security special organ of the Republic of South Sudan and as president, I am your Commander in Chief,”Kiir said.
“If your commanders-in-chief were the chairperson of SPLM-IO, Dr. Riek Machar, or Hussein Abdelbagi or any other unknown commander-in-chief, now you belong to the republic of South Sudan. It is your responsibility to defend the flag of our country with all its colors and the meaning attached to each of them.”
Kiir also warned the forces against belonging to any political party but rather serve and defend their country.
The function was also attended by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the president of the Sovereign Council of Sudan who also act as the second guarantor of the peace agreement, Dr.Riek Machar Teny, the first Vice President of South Sudan and representatives from Egypt, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.
The unified forces
At the ceremony, a total of 21,973 unified forces graduated and these included 3,308 very important person protection forces integrated into the South Sudan army, and 4,366 personnel into the unified South Sudan National Police Service.
Also, a total of 6,315 personnel were unified into the unified National Security Service, and 1,120 personnel into a unified National Prison service.
Another 3,575 personnel were unified into the unified National Wildlife Service and 3,289 into the unified National Civil Defense Service.
Uganda has played a key role in the unification of the forces since 2019 when President Museveni as one of the guarantors of the peace agreement for South Sudan sent then Maj Gen Paul Lokech(RIP) to Juba monitor on behalf of the guarantors of the peace process, the assembling, screening, demobilization and integration of the armed forces of South Sudan.
In what was termed by insiders within the army and at State House as a special assignment, Gen Lokech was meant to oversee the integration of the armed forces which among others involved the creation of cantonment sites, where troops and rebels were to be screened, trained and integrated into a single force has also not been effected.
Lokech performed the role until December 2020 when he was appointed the Deputy Inspector General of Police and replaced by Maj Gen James Birungi who carried on from where his predecessor had ended.
Later, the mantle was given to Maj Gen Jack Bakasumba earlier this year who is also still serving in that capacity up to now.