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SPLM/A-IO to reduce members of its advance team, cites financial difficulties

Juba, February 1, 2016 (SSNA) -- The leader of rebel advance team Taban Deng Gai has announced that the armed opposition would soon be forced to reduce number of its advance team members who are being accommodated in South Sudan's capital, Juba.

Taban, who cites financial strains as the main reason for the reduction of number of the advance team members, says Troika which provided initial funding, ended its financial support on the 22nd of January 2016, adding that South Sudanese government's funding for the advance team accommodation costs also ended on January 31.

However, Taban proclaimed that Kiir has again directed the committee tasked to fund rebel advance team to continue paying accommodation fees.

Taban, who discloses that his team consists of about 300 people, says that the leadership of the armed opposition is considering maintaining only those tasked with the implementation of the power-sharing deal and the SPLM-IO's members who were appointed as members of parliament (MPs).

The rebel official added that Kiir gave him messages that he will be forwarding to Dr. Machar and that the messages suggest how the two warring factions can move forward with the implementation of the IGAD-Plus's compromise peace agreement.

Troika stopped its financial support on January 22, saying South Sudanese rival leaders failed to form a transitional government by the January 22 dateline set by the IGAD-Plus.

South Sudan’s rebel leader meets US officials over peace deal implementation

Addis Ababa, January 31, 2016 (SSNA) -- Former South Sudanese Vice president and rebel Chief Dr. Riek Machar on Sunday met with the United States government’s officials in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The Chairman for Foreign Affairs of the SPLM-IO National Committee Ezekiel Lol Gatkoth said Machar met with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Gayle Smith and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield over the implementation of the power-sharing deal.

Ezekiel says the rebel leader discussed with the US officials Kiir’s 28 states expansion plan, security arrangements, and other peace-related issues; adding that the armed opposition boss urged US officials to pressure Kiir to retract his 28 states decree.

The rebel senior official reveals that the armed oppositon chief asked the United States to transport 1,500 joint integrated police and 1,410 of the SPLM/A-IO to Juba as soon as possible, citing provisions in the IGAD-Plus’s compromise peace agreement.

In the meeting, Machar reiterates his commitment to peace and that he is determined to make sure peace is realized in the violence-wracked South Sudan.

There are concerns over lack of the implementation of the internationally-brokered deal, raising fear that the warring factions could resume fighting.

UN accuses Israel of supplying South Sudan with “advanced spy tools”

Juba, January 30, 2016 (SSNA) -- A report released on Friday by the United Nations panel of experts accuses Israeli government of supplying South Sudanese government with high-tech communications interception equipment. The report say Israel keeps exporting modern spy devices to South Sudan even after it stopped selling arms to the violence-ravaged young nation.

The accusation came a few months after UN accused Jerusalem of selling “lethal weapons” to Juba.

The final report, which examined the enactment of a host of sanctions imposed on South Sudan by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), also states that South Sudan’s government buys some of its military hardware from Ukraine and Uganda.

However, the document explicitly names Israel as the source of a tracking and communications interception tool uses by Salva kiir’s government.

The wiretapping device, according to the report, has been and still being used by security agents to eavesdrop on, track, and arrest anyone the government perceives as a threat to its existence.

“The Service’s ability to identify and illegally apprehend individuals has been significantly enhanced since the beginning of the conflict because it has acquired additional communications interception equipment from Israel,” UN’s panel of experts declared in the report.

The UN panel of experts also accuse South Sudan’s National Security Service and SPLA Military Intelligence of continue involvement in arbitrary arrests and detention of people suspected of supporting the armed opposition and that most of those arrested were Nuer. The report added that Equatorians have become increasingly become the targets of arrest by government agents.

“Initially, most arrests and detentions were of Nuer. In recent months, however, Equatorians have increasingly become the targets of arrest by both the National Security Service and Military Intelligence as the political opposition to the Government has grown in the greater Equatoria region,” the report added.

In November of 2015, Israeli government’s officials told the UN panel of experts that Israel has stopped selling weapons to South Sudan’s government a few months after the war broke out in Juba. Israel also said it has good relations with Salva Kiir’s government and the SPLM/A-IO’s leader Dr. Riek Machar.

Fighting erupted in December of 2013 between different units of presidential guards after months of political disagreement among senior leaders of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party. Kiir accused Dr. Machar of planning a coup. Machar denies the charge, saying Kiir premeditated the coup in an attempt to try to get rid of his political adversaries.

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