Army orders NUF graduates to return to base for verification

The Joint Defense Board has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the graduates of the National Unified Forces (NUF) to report to the training centers for verification ahead of deployment.

In a joint statement issued on Monday by the two spokespersons – Maj.-Gen Lul Ruai of SSPDF and Col. Lam Paul of SPLA-IO, verification teams will be sent to all training centers as soon as possible.

In 2022, the peace government graduated about 50,000 under the NUF – a unified national army, police, and other security forces.

However, some of the men and women deserted their centers after unification, according to a report from the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAM-VM).

This was because of a lack of logistical supplies such as food and medicine.

“Food items for training centers in greater Equatoria is already delivered, food items for training centers in greater Bahr el Region will reach in the next 24 hours,” it reads in parts.

“Food items for training centers in greater Upper Nile will be delivered by boats/barges. Any member of NUF who misses the forthcoming verification, will not be deployed/redeployed and will not be allowed to join phase two.”

Meanwhile, the board also made a specific announcement to ranks and files of SPLA-IO, saying:

“All (SPLA-IO) are required to report to cantonment centers with their personal weapons for Phase Two. No soldier without a gun will be allowed to enter any of the training centers.”

The first batch of the NUF, which graduated in August 2022, were allowed in 2019 to enter training centers even without guns, resulting in their graduation with sticks as the government claimed it could not acquire new weapons due to the arms embargo imposed on South Sudan.

The soldiers had been fighting since 2013 using their personal weapons, but appeared in unification centers without weapons, creating a belief that they are hiding weapons and portrays lack of trust in the unification.

The Joint Defense Board said this would not again be the case in the phase two training and urged all the oppositions soldiers to report to the unification and training centers with their personal weapons and be graduated with them at the end of the training.