South Sudan rebels deny “breakthrough” on security arrangements

Col. Lam Paul Gabriel. Photo: File

Addis Ababa, May 21, 2018 (SSNA) — South Sudan’s main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), has denied reports that it has strike a deal with the government on security arrangements, specifically on the integration of the rival forces.

In a statement issued late Monday, deputy SPLA-IO spokesman Col. Lam Paul Gabriel said recent reports that the armed opposition has reached an agreement with the government on the integration of the rebel forces are not true, asserting that the warring parties only reached a minor understanding on cantonment issue.

“Just to clear the air on security arrangements. Integration was not agreed upon. Salva Kiir in 2014 admitted that 70% of the SPLA soldiers defected to Dr. Machar; so, if integration is to take place, the balance from their 30% can be integrated to us and not the other way around. What was discussed was the unification of all the forces to form a well-balanced National army, not a tribal army,” Col. Lam said.

The rebel spokesman explained how the integration was discussed and disclosed reunification proposals are being discussed by the leadership of parties to the conflict.

“Time frame for the unification was not unanimously agreed upon. Our delegates discussed 18 months and also 6 months. Both proposals have been forwarded to leadership for final deliberations. The cantonment was agreed upon, but its scope needs more discussion,” he explained.

In the strongly worded text, Col. Lam, explained that the armed opposition wants a genuine peace for all South Sudanese, warning that the SPLM/A-IO will not be tricked to embrace a “selfish” deal that only favors those who are afraid of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Hybrid Court.

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