3 September 2014

South Sudan: S. Sudan President Calls for Integration of Former Militia Groups

Photo: Tim McKulka/UN Photo
SPLA Soldiers.

Juba — South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has directed that members of other armed groups covered by a general amnesty be integrated into government institutions, his office said on Wednesday.

Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny said a percentage will be integrated into the national army (SPLA) and police service, while other will return to civilian life.

"A committee is working on the integration process because it will be the one to devise a mechanism for integration because not all of them will be observed in the national army," Ateny said in a statement on Wednesday.

"This is a process which requires time. The committee is working on it," he adds.

The presidential aide praised the "nationalistic approach" taken by the former militia groups, saying their actions would have negatively impacted the security situation in the country should they have opted to rejoin the current rebellion as some others did.

"This is why the decision they took to work for peace is seen as a demonstration of nationalism, because for peace to come some sacrifices and high prices must be made," he said. "The government very much commends them for showing nationalistic spirit."

Ateny said the president has already directed the committee under the leadership of the ministers of security, defence and interior to expeditiously complete the integration process.

The South Sudanese government has been engaged in an armed struggle with rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar since mid-December last year when a political dispute within the country's ruling party turned violent.

The SPLA has been hit by a series of defections, including some senior military figures, since the conflict erupted.

Meanwhile, Gordon Buay, a member of the integration committee, said the integrations process would be complete once approval was granted by the army's chief of general staff, General Paul Malong Awan

Buay said high level officers had already been integrated into the national army, with some appointed as field commanders, tasked with fighting alongside government troops against the pro-Machar forces.

"My understanding is that all of them will be integrated into the national army. They will not be demobilised now because the country is at war and they are the ones fighting the rebels now," said Buay.

"What remains now for the work of the committee to be completed is the approval of the chief of general staff, General Paul Malong Awan, which I know he will do it," he adds.

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