South Sudan rebels said 23 of their top generals are expected to arrive in Juba this coming Monday to prepare for the coming of their leader, Riek Machar, who is the designated first vice president in a soon-to-be formed national unity government.
Machar has reportedly said he will only travel to Juba when nearly 3,000 of his troops and police are in the capital, with an additional 1,200 police deployed to Bor, Malakal and Bentiu.
Disagreements between rebels and the government persist
Implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement has been slow as both the rebels and President Salva Kiir’s government squabble over such issues as President Kiir’s creation of 28 new states.
They have also been trading accusations of cease-fire violations.
Rebels say they are serious about peace
Rebel military spokesman Colonel William Gatjiath Deng said the upcoming arrival of the 23 generals is a further indication the rebels are committed to implementing the August 2015 peace agreement.
Deng said the decision to send in the 23 generals is also influenced by the decision of the troika (United States, United Kingdom, and Norway) that they are ready to transport rebel forces to three areas in Sudan.
Rebels will bring heavy weapons to Juba
The rebels have also been insisting on bringing their heavy weapons into Juba, including tanks.
Deng brushed aside criticism that the heavy weapons would be a provocation for another conflict with government forces. He said the rebels need their heavy weapons because of prior experience with the South Sudan military.
“We are not coming back to Juba to wage another war, but when we are told to go back to Juba, we must take our equipment with us. How could you go back to somebody who fought you using light machine guns. This is will not be possible,” Deng said.
He said once the 23 generals arrive and the rest of rebel troops are transported to their various camps, then it would be a matter of a week before leader Machar arrives in Juba. He assured the South Sudanese that the rebels are serious about implementing the August 2015 peace agreement because if they didn’t want to they wouldn’t be sending their generals.