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South Sudan forms unified army, integrates opposition commanders

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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has now formed a unified armed forces command and has also integrated opposition commanders into the structure of the armed forces.

Per the new structure, the president’s faction has a 60% representation while the opposition occupies the remaining 40%.

A line-up of the names of the generals to lead the unified command was announced by the national broadcaster on Tuesday night.

In a move that could signal a significant approach towards ensuring a sustainable peace deal, South Sudan’s political rivals last week agreed to form the unified armed forces command.

Officials representing President Salva Kiir and his first Vice-President Riek Machar signed the deal to fulfil a key pillar of 2018 peace agreement.

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A unified armed forces command was a key pillar of that peace agreement following five years of civil war.

The formation of the unified command is now expected to be followed by the graduation of soldiers and police on training and their deployment.

This should not exceed two months, according to the deal reached last week.

Major General Martin Abucha, who represented Mr Machar’s faction at the deal signing event last week said “People of South Sudan are yearning for peace and peace is about security and today we have made a milestone in that. We have agreed that we shall be moving forward.”

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“I want to call on my colleagues from the other sides that it is important to silence the guns so that South Sudan can prosper. Let there be no fighting, let there be no attacks,” he added.

Both President Kiir and vice president Machar looked on as the deal was signed.

It’s been two years since the rival political factions signed a peace deal that ushered in a unity government that was supposed to restore peace to the country.

Riek Machar and three other persons were sworn in as vice presidents at the time as part of the deal.

The formation of a unity government was seen as a major move that could definitively end years of fighting in the country.

That transitional government was to govern for three years and that mandate expires next year to make way for elections.

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