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South Sudan passes out first batch of army instructors

October 5, 2019 (JUBA) - South Sudan on Friday graduated the first batch of army instructors who will help in training both government and opposition soldiers to form the unified force of 83,000 to take charge of the young nation’s security during the transitional period.

The unified force of instructors pose for a group photo in Juba, October 5, 2019 (Xinhua)

The graduation took place at the Luri military training centre in Juba.

Speaking the during the graduation ceremony, Thomas Jal Thomas, a member of the Joint Defense Board (JDB) said the 1,000 officers drawn from the South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) and various opposition groups will train members of the unified force.

He also urged the Troika (United States, Britain and Norway) to financially support the implementation of the revitalized peace deal.

On his part, the commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeepers, Shailesh Tinaiker urged the graduates to work towards achieving peace in the young nation.

"You will be responsible for training the combined and unified forces of South Sudan. You have been selected by your leaders in a project which has tremendous implication on national integrity and security," said Tinaiker.

“Whatever you do, however you act, is going to affect the soldiers who you train, so I implore you to be conscious of your actions because you set the trend of the forces of South Sudan,” he added.

Creating a unified army and determining the number of states and their boundaries remains the biggest challenges in the peace deal.

The head of UNMISS, David Shearer on Tuesday urged South Sudanese leaders to redouble their efforts and tackle challenges facing the implementation of the peace deal before the Transitional Government of National Unity is formed in November.

He said time is running out for signatories to the deal to resolve outstanding issues.

South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused the country’s then former Vice President Riek Machar of plotting a coup, allegations he dismissed.

In September 2018, the rival factions involved in the conflict signed a peace deal to end the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced over 2 million people in the country.