Future of the military forces of the Nuba Mountains discussed

Nuba Mountains
July 25, 2004 (JMC)

Tillo. The JMC Chairman’s Group held an internal seminar on Saturday 17 July 2004 to consider the implications of the Peace Protocols on the military forces in the Nuba Mountains.

Topics such as the jurisdiction of military authorities, the command and control of security forces, a withdrawal to established areas, the carriage of firearms and the disarmament of other armed groups were thoroughly discussed by its 9 voting members (3 GOS, 3 SPLA & 3 JMC international reps) and the 2 Parties’ local Police Chiefs.

There was common consent that the purpose of the military authority is the defence of Sudan, to support peace-keeping duties and to assist in development and disaster relief – and that the Armed Forces play an important role in the country’s stability. The existing armies should concentrate into garrisons, probably within 12-24 months of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, once barracks were available, acknowledging that the SPLA would move to Southern Sudan as the Joint Integrated Units formed .

An understanding developed during the discussion that the intended Joint Integrated Units should be fully integrated, top to bottom, and that officers should be selected for key positions based on their abilities, qualifications and experience not on family or tribal links. The discussion concluded unanimously that soldiers should only carry weapons outside barracks on official duty, and that civilians should be allowed possession of single shot weapons (not automatics), and these only under licence.

Other armed groups should be encouraged to surrender their arms through incentive and motivation. If unsuccessful, they should be disarmed by the party to whom they are affiliated. If called upon by the Police to help, soldiers could be used to assist in this disarming. A weapon disarmament compensation system for civilians was discussed. Though such schemes have not worked well elsewhere, a suggestion was voiced which proposed full compensation for immediate surrender, reduced compensation for delayed surrender but a penalty for withholding arms.