August 15, 2016 (JUBA) – The official spokesperson for the leader of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), has described as “self-deception” President Salva Kiir’s cabinet resolution on Friday which resolved to integrate SPLA-IO forces, saying the “illegal” new First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, has no army to integrate.
“This is a self-deception. The new illegal First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, has no army to integrate, or actually to surrender to his new commander-in-chief, Salva Kiir,” said James Gatdet Dak, official spokesman for the SPLM-IO leader, Riek Machar.
Dak was responding to the resolution passed in Juba in the Council of Ministers meeting chaired by President Kiir during which it resolved to integrate SPLA-IO forces.
Information and Broadcasting Minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, announced on Friday that the cabinet had agreed to approve the establishment of the cantonment sites and to integrate members of the SPLA-IO forces after getting into the assembling points.
But Dak said SPLA-IO army is with Machar including the top army leadership, saying Gai had only defected to President Kiir’s faction with his bodyguards.
He said even another SPLA-IO General which Gai lured to his side in Unity state also defected with only less than 50 soldiers, adding “unless this is the number they wanted to integrate.”
Dak however claimed that the numbers of SPLA-IO forces are in hundreds of thousands and are all loyal to Machar across the country.
“SPLA-IO forces are the ones now besieging Juba, closing all routes from different directions. They are in full control of Juba-Yei road. They are in full control of Juba-Mundri road. They are in control of northwest of Juba city. They have cut off Lobonok, southwest of Juba. They are closing Juba-Bor road. Soon they will also close Juba-Nimule and Juba-Torit roads. And they will soon move on Juba to capture it and restore law and order. These are the members of the SPLA-IO forces under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar, the legitimate First Vice President and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA-IO army,” Dak said.
He said the cabinet should have asked Taban Deng Gai if the SPLA-IO forces who have been fighting President Kiir’s forces around Juba and closing all roads are the ones he claimed to be commanding and should be integrated.
Dak also said the peace agreement did not provide for immediate integration of the SPLA-IO forces, but rather gradual “reunification” of the two armies “unit by unit” after implementation of security sector reforms which would take at least two years into the transitional period.
He said Kiir and Gai are violating the peace agreement to avoid reforms, saying Gai was trying to surrender the SPLA-IO army as he has already surrendered the parliamentary leadership to President Kiir.
He also said it will not be surprising if Gai will also surrender and approve the controversial 28 states.