South Sudan Rebels Establish Military Command, Create 21 States
Addis Ababa — In a move seen to be in preparation for the next phase in the one-year-old conflict, South Sudan’s former vice-president, Riek Machar, who leads the SPLM-In-Opposition has for the first time established a military command for the rebel group.
South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar (Photo Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)
In an order signed on 21 December, seen by Sudan Tribune, Machar said the “General Staff Command” would now command and control the rebel forces.
“Pursuant to December 6-12, 2014 Pagak conference resolutions, in reorganizing the SPLM/SPLA forces and its command and control, the SPLA Staff Command is hereby established per this order,” partly reads the circular issued by the rebel leader.
The new military command is composed of a chief of general staff, with five deputies for administration, operations, logistics, training and moral and orientation.
Names of the senior commanders to be put in charge of the new assignments are yet to be revealed.
Rebel sources however said General Gatwech Dual, from Jonglei state, is likely to take up the assignment as the chief of general staff.
The rebel group had been fighting for the past year unorganised, scattered and without a central command.
The new development comes amid reports that the opposition fighters might be receiving sophisticated weapons to face president Salva Kiir’s government.
21 STATES CREATED
In a separate order, Machar also dissolved the current 10 states in South Sudan and created 21 federal states mainly on the basis of the former old districts, which were created by the British colonial administration.
These are 1) Fashoda state, 2) Adar (North East Upper Nile) state, 3) Sobat state, 4) Lich state, 5) Jonglei state, 6) Bieh state, 7) Phow state, 8) Pibor state, 9) Kapoeta state, 10) Imatong state, 11) Central Equatoria state, 12) Yei River state, 13) Mid-West Equatoria state, 14) Western Equatoria state, 15) Warrap (Tonj) state, 16) Lol state, 17) Lakes state, 18) Rumbek state, 19) Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, 20) Wau state and 21) Western Bhar el Ghazal (Raga) state.
In the new administrative units, Upper Nile state is divided into three separate states. Jonglei state is divided into four states.
Eastern, Central and Western Equatoria states are divided into two states each, with Warrap state also into two.
Lakes and Western Bhar el Ghazal states divided into two states each, while Northern Bhar el Ghazal and Unity states remain undivided, with the latter’s name changed to Lich state.
As former greater regions, Greater Bahr el Ghazal is divided into seven new states, instead of four; Greater Upper Nile into eight states, instead of three; and Greater Equatoria divided into six states, instead of three.
The new states are officially the administrative units for the opposition faction with rebel sources hinting that provisional military governors will be appointed as well.