November 11, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – The leadership of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) is undergoing a process of selecting officials of the movement that will compose the advance team to the South Sudanese national capital, Juba, as first stage in the implementation of the peace agreement signed in August by warring parties in the country.

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South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar smiles during a news conference in Khartoum, on September 18, 2015 (ST Photo)

Last week, the SPLM-IO faction led by the first vice-president designate, Riek Machar, in their 2nd meeting of the top political leadership in Pagak, the general headquarters of the SPLM-IO, resolved to send to Juba and to other nine states up to 500 cadres of the opposition group in order to mobilize and sensitize the populations about the peace agreement and its implementation.

The team will also prepare for the reception of their top leader once he returns to Juba to form a coalition government with president Salva Kiir by the end of December 2015 or January 2016, depending on the progress and speed of implementation.

The official spokesman of the leadership said the process to select the members as part of the advance team was still going on in Pagak.

“Yes, preparations have been going on. States leaderships have been directed to select their respective members to the advance team,” James Gatdet Dak, official spokesman of the SPLM-IO leader, told Sudan Tribune when contacted from Pagak on Wednesday.

“We expect the membership to the whole team to be ready in days. If other preparations including logistical arrangements will be equally ready, we expect our team to be in Juba any time soon,” he said.

Joint military and police forces are also expected to be deployed to Juba and other state capitals and major towns as a nucleus for a future unified national army in the country.

According to the peace agreement signed in August between president Kiir and the opposition leader, Machar, a transitional government of national unity shall be formed to run the country for the next two and a half years before elections are held.

The peace deal ends 21 months of civil war which has left tens of thousands of people killed and millions others displaced internally and to the neighbouring countries of Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

The war erupted on 15 December 2013 when internal political debate over reforms in the ruling SPLM party turned violent, pitting rival top leaders backed mainly by members of their communities.