As South Sudan continues to graduate the Necessary Unified Forces, an activist has urged the government to ensure the forces are paid to motivate them in executing their duties.
Edmund Yakani said availing salaries for the graduating soldiers and the police will strengthen their commitment to upholding the rule of law.
On Tuesday, over 21,000 officers of the South Sudan Unified Forces graduated in Juba ahead of their deployment.
The first batch include 3,308 VIP protection forces, 4,366 National Police Service, 6,315 National Security Service, 1,120 National Prison Service, 3,575 National Wildlife Service, and 3,289 Civil Defense Service.
President Salva Kiir who presided over the graduation told the officers to refrain from politics, ethnicity, and to treat all South Sudanese with justice and equality.
He also warned that those who will be found to discriminate against people will be dismissed and face the full force of the law.
In his remarks during the graduation, activist Edmund Yakani who represented the civil society said the government must consider – as a priority – the regular payment of its forces.
“These good uniforms, good soldiers, [and] if we add good money to their pockets, unknown gunmen will disappear in South Sudan, intercommunal violence will stop – if we pay them a good salary,’’ he stated.
Yakani also preempted the sentiments of the President by urging the forces to desist from tribalism, and supporting politicians or political parties.
“This uniform is not for tribe, this uniform is not for politicians. This uniform is to protect the flag which is up there. Never ever allow yourselves to be messed up by the politicians,’’ he stressed.
The First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar in his remarks called for tolerance and patience among the graduating forces over the issue of salaries.
He said implementing economic reforms envisoned in the peace agreement will ensure the government generate enough resources to pay its work force.
“We are aware that the pay is low – and by the way, don’t think that it is yours alone, even we in the podium here, we have low salaries. But for us to raise the salaries, we must act together to combat corruption so that you have a raise in your salaries and be transparent in what you do,’’ he emphasized.
The graduation of the first batch of the Necessary Unified Forces comes weeks after the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity extended the transitional period for another 24 months.
The forces have been at the training camps for over 2 years due to the inability of the government to fund their graduation.
President Salva Kiir commended their officers for their patience and hoped their “suffering have also strengthen their resolve to defend their country and protect their people.”
The government is expected to graduate 52,000 officers across the country.