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JUBA/KHARTOUM - 18 Oct 2019

300 SPLA-IO soldiers to be airlifted to Juba on Saturday

Photo: SPLA troops at Juba airport in 2016 (Radio Tamazuj)
Photo: SPLA troops at Juba airport in 2016 (Radio Tamazuj)

About 300 soldiers belonging to the Sudan People's Liberation Army-In-Opposition (SPLA-IO) will arrive in Juba on Saturday from Sudan, a top Sudanese army general said.

Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a member of Sudan’s sovereign council and head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, told reporters in Juba this evening that a group of about 300 SPLA-IO soldiers will be airlifted to Juba on Saturday.

“Riek Machar will arrive in Juba on Saturday with a big delegation. We will receive about 300 soldiers at the airport and they will report themselves to training centers,” Dagalo said.

The powerful military general pledged his country’s support the peace process in South Sudan, saying opposition leader Riek Machar will hold talks with President Salva Kiir in Juba.

Sudan and Uganda are guarantors to the September 2018 peace deal that seeks to end civil war in South Sudan.

For his part, Pouk Both Baluang, the SPLM-IO's director for information confirmed to Radio Tamazuj that some members of the SPLA-IO will be flown to Juba on Saturday.

“The delegation that will accompany Dr. Machar includes SPLA-IO soldiers who will go to cantonment sites as directed by the East African regional bloc IGAD. They will not carry weapons with them, they are like civilians,” he said.

Amid mounting global pressure on South Sudan’s parties to resolve critical pending tasks and form a unity government by 12 November, members of the United Nations Security Council will visit Juba on Sunday to put their weight behind the political process.

Steps toward key benchmarks in the peace deal – unifying armed factions and drawing boundaries of states – are lagging far behind schedule.

Signatories to the peace deal have missed IGAD's September 30 deadline to have half of the 83,000 unified forces trained and deployed across the country.