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Lam Paul Gabriel, the spokesman for South Sudan People’s Liberation Army in opposition

South Sudan opposition downplays waves of defections

South Sudan main opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) has downplayed the recent defection of senior officers to the South Sudan People’s Defense Force  (SSPDF).

Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, the spokesman for SPLA-IO said the party is bigger than individuals who have defected.

“The military wing is bigger since 2018 up to date, the number that left is less than 1000 and currently we are more than 30,000, the defection is not about SPLA-IO it is about those who are fighting the SPLA-IO,” Gabriel told Juba Echo in Juba on Sunday.

On October 7,2023, Gen. Simon Maguek, a senior SPLA-IO commander in charge of SPLA-IO sector two in Unity state defected with hundreds of troops to the SSPDF led by President Salva Kiir.

He cited nepotism and administrative failure within the former rebel movement led by First Vice President Riek Machar.

On October 20, 2023, Maj.Gen Michael Wal Nyak declared his defection alongside thousands of troops to the SSPDF.

Gabriel said the SPLA-IO is currently focused on implementing security arrangements that will guarantee security in the country.

“The majority that are with us in the cantonment areas and in the training sites and in our bases are with the reform agenda, we are talking about reform in the security sector, we want a professional army,” he said.

South Sudan is supposed to graduate and deploy 83,000 unified forces under the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

The parties have so far graduated the first batch of 52,000 unified forces which are still awaiting deployment.

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