Torit: Graduation of unified forces postponed again
The Eastern Equatoria State government has for the third time postponed the graduation of unified forces in Torit town to 16 September due to the incomplete screening of the soldiers.
According to authorities, many soldiers who did not attend the training demanded to be graduated. About 3,750 soldiers were expected to graduate in Torit but the Area Joint Military Ceasefire Committee (AJMCC) has screened and confirmed only 1,100 of them and says that deserters will not be accepted.
Three weeks ago, The Owinykibul Training Center said about 2,500 soldiers had been trained and were ready to graduate.
Patrick Oting Cyprian, the Eastern Equatoria State information minister, said only those who underwent training will be graduated and that those who do not qualify will undergo training and be graduated in the next batch.
“Because of the logistical issues and the registration of these forces, they are still analyzing and they are still crosschecking the original names that they have in that list because they were people at the training center ready for graduation who did the training and finished but now we have other forces who are coming in who were not even at the training center and they needed to be graduated,” he said.
According to the minister, some of the SPLA-IO forces IO in Achwa were not in the training center but came to Torit and want to graduate.
“The batch that we are graduating is the one that attended and completed the training,” he emphasized.
Meanwhile, Lt Col. Dominic Odemi, the AJMCC administrator and file manager in Eastern Equatoria State, said poor roads have posed a major challenge in transporting forces from the training centers to the graduation venue.
“The graduation was to kick off on the 10 September but according to the timetable the two training centers, Owinykibul and Maridi, have to be graduated on the same day,” he said. “The number expected to graduate is 3,750 and we expected them to appear in the training center but some did not. The issue of food has forced many to desert the training center and the total number ready for graduation is 1,100 forces.”
For his part, Oryema Emmanuel, a civil society activist in Eastern Equatoria State, appealed to the parties to the peace agreement to speed the graduation and end unnecessary postponement in order to help curb insecurity in the state.
“The issue of postponement started a long time ago and it is continuous and this is making the citizens lose hope,” he said. “The security arrangement is the cornerstone of the entire agreement and there must be a clear reason for the postponement.”