South Sudan Disagrees With Rebels Over Size of Juba Advance-Team

  • Government will take 50 people, a 10th of amount rebels want
  • Team's arrival is peace-process step to end two-year civil war

South Sudan’s government said it will only accept an advance rebel team in the capital that’s about a 10th the size of that nominated by the insurgents, potentially stalling a process to end two years of civil war.

The government is only willing to take between 36 and 50 people for incorporation into national institutions during the 30-month transitional period, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said by phone from Juba, the capital. Rebels had said they would send 550 representatives, starting from Dec. 1. None have arrived.

“The intentions of sending 550 at one go is unclear, whether they are military personnel or civilians,” Ateny said on Thursday. “We are not convinced as to what the 550 will be doing in Juba. They are almost a battalion.”

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in oil-producing South Sudan and over two million forced from their homes during fighting that resulted from a fracturing of the ruling party and army in December 2013.

Under an August pact, rebel leader Riek Machar will return as President Salva Kiir’s deputy for the 30-month period leading to elections. The transitional government was supposed to be established in late November. Clashes have continued even after several pledges to cease hostilities.

If rebels “remain adamant” over the numbers, the government will seek the intervention of regional monitors and a joint-commission that’s overseeing the power-sharing agreement, Ateny said.

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