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SPLA-IO demands unified command of army before amalgamation

By Simon Deng

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army in opposition (SPLA-IO) are demanding the unification of the top command of forces before former rebels are amalgated into the army.

The group led by First Vice President Riek Machar fought against the administration of President Salva Kiir fir six years before a peace agreement provided for their cantonment in training centers ahead of absorbing them into the national army.

The war left 400, 000 people dead and displaced four million others.

To date, Machar still maintains full authority over the forces as commander in chief.

President Kiir meanwhile is the commander in chief of the South Sudan Defense Forces.

According to the spokesman of the former rebels, Lam Paul Gabriel said Machar “stands firm on the unification of command structure before graduating the necessary unified forces.”

He was addressing journalists at the army headquarters in Juba after a meeting held by the Joint Defense Board (JDB), a body comprising of military commanders from the army and rebel forces.

 The peace deal, signed in September 2018 and expected to end the conflict suffered delays mostly blamed on logistics for supporting cantonment sites, in term of screening, training and integration into a single force.

“The SPLA-IO focus on the 50:50 ratio but the disagreement still stands up to now between the principles, and if forces are graduated who is going to be their commander?” wondered Gabriel.

The “Joint Defense Board have made it very clear that forces should report to cantonment sites immediately, we need to have unified command first so that this unified command take over the command, that is the stand of the SPLA-IO at the movement,” he said.

Maj. Gen Lul Ruai Koang, the spokesperson for South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) said that the long awaited screening for the armed forces is beginning soon, noting that forces in the training centers are going to be screened and put into military formation leading to creation of a unified national army.

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