Gatwech gives up on Khartoum Peace Agreement signed with gov’t
The Kitgwang Declaration, led by Simon Gatwech has expressed pessimism over the Khartoum Peace Agreement entered with the government, with the ‘rebel group’ saying there is little hope that it will be implemented.
The agreement was signed on January 16, 2022, between the government and Gen. Simon Gatwech, leader of the SPLM-IO Kitgwang Declaration, and Gen. Johnson Olony, who leads the Agwelek Faction.
“The Khartoum Peace Agreement signed on January 16, 2022, by 1st Lt Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, the SPLM/A-IO KD, and the Government in Juba, is already confirmed dead,” said Simon Gach, the spokesperson of SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang.
He argued that bringing the holdout groups to the negotiating table with honesty was the best way forward for ensuring all the interests were accommodated.
“The first priority is to bring all holdout oppositions on board through genuine peace and honesty,” he said.
“As of now, there is no initiative underway between the SPLM/A-IO KD and the government in Juba,” he added, alleging further that the fate of the Rome peace talks may end up suffering the same fate as the Khartoum deal.
As for Gach, there were two separate agreements within the Khartoum Peace Agreement—one signed by Simon Gatwech Dual and the other signed by Johnson Olony with the government. According to him, this implies that the agreement to be implemented is between Gen. Olony and the government.
“That means the factions are different, but they are allies,” he explained.
Last week, the head of the Agwelek delegation in Juba, Dr. Paul Achot Achobek, said Gen. Olony was set to meet President Salva Kiir prior to his return to Upper Nile State.
The statement came after Olony touched down at Juba International Airport on Sunday last week.
“He (Johnson Olony) came to finish the unfinished part of the agreement; he came to implement the agreement. In a meeting with the president, they will discuss a lot of issues. Concerning security arrangements,” said Dr. Achot.
He noted that the president’s busy schedules could not allow him to meet Olony early and might prolong his stay in the capital.
The key parts of the Khartoum Peace Agreement yet to be implemented include cantonment and integration of Agwelek forces into the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF).
“We were supposed to station our forces in four areas along the Upper Nile, and then we will have the communiqué that has to be concluded by a conference,” he said.
The agreement was such that the government was to provide the necessary logistics for the implementation of the peace agreement, including the establishment of coordination offices in Juba, Malakal, and Bor, the integration of Kitgwang and Agwelek forces, and the deployment of such forces.
In December 2022, President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a stern warning against rebels that he would drive them out of the forests where they wreaked havoc.
“There are people in a forest here who consider themselves strong in your absence, and when you come, they shoot bullets and run away. “These people, if they shoot next time, it will be the next mission where we will search the trees of the forest for these people,” President Kiir said yesterday.
Kiir spoke during the graduation of over 700 troops dispatched to the DR Congo for a peacekeeping mission.
“I repeat, the remaining army will not stay without a mandate; we are going to look for something that hits people in the forest. We have been in the forest for 21 years, and we haven’t found anything good,” Kiir said.
“If there was something good in the forest, we wouldn’t have come to the cities. I tell you that the remaining army would be tasked with clearing those forests and not favouring any small thing in a forest.”
The president’s decision was in response to insecurity tied to inter-communal violence in Upper Nile and Greater Jonglei states that led to massive losses of lives.
Last week, President Kiir and the First Vice President Riek Machar appealed to the holdout groups to join the discussion on the transitional justice mechanism to have their voices heard.
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