Gatwech spells doom on Khartoum deal with planned new alliances

Gatwech spells doom on Khartoum deal with planned new alliances

The Khartoum Peace Agreement, signed between the government and the breakaway SPLA-IO, could be headed for an oblique future, if not a total collapse.

The spokesperson of Kitgwang Declaration, Alfred Gach Thot, cast doubt on the validity of the deal and described it as an initiative ‘‘on the verge of collapse’’ as he justified their quest to team up with other opposition political outfits.

“The agreement we signed with the government in Juba is in its critical stage on the verge of collapse due to reluctance from the government. Then it can’t prevent SPLM/A-IO KD from working with other oppositions,” he noted on his Facebook page. 

According to Mr Thot, Gatwech is currently considering an alliance with NAS rebel leader, Thomas Cirilo, although this remains just an informal consideration. This is a move that, if actualised, would rule them out of negotiating with the government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit, which has made it public that it will never negotiate with rebels ‘‘pursuing individual interests at the expense of the people.’’

“We (have) not yet (entered into) the MoU and when the time comes, we will make it available to the public,” he noted, adding that this came up after they held talks with officials from the rebel outfit. 

The truce

Kitgwang Declaration entered into a maiden agreement with the government delegation led by the Presidential Advisor on National Security Affairs, Tut Gatluak Manime, for their forces to be integrated into the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) on January 16, 2022.

However, according to Kitgwang forces, the agreement is yet to be implemented despite the time set aside for the integration of forces elapsing. 

However, the Agwelek leader, Gen Johnson Olony, had secured a deal which allowed his forces to work closely with government officers in the Upper Nile to police the area. While the two leaders are yet to honour an amnesty call granted by President Kiir, forces allied to them have engaged in internal fights that have continued to destabilise Upper Nile State, particularly Malakal where thousands have been displaced.   

Nonetheless, the head of the Agwelek delegation that jetted in January 2022, Dr Paul Achobek, told The City Review that Olony remains committed to honouring President Kiir’s visit; should have done so months ago, and is still planning to come to Juba.

‘‘Gen. Olony wants our national government to take control of these borders (South Sudan-Sudan border routes) prior to his coming to Juba,’’ he said.

Gatwech yield to pressure

After criticism from civil society and calls for an end to the inter-communal conflict a week ago, Gatwech released a statement allowing humanitarian access to save the lives of internally displaced persons in Upper Nile State, urging humanitarian agencies to expedite their response.

”In light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, the SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang Declaration calls on local NGOs and international organisations to “reach out to the innocent civilians who have been affected by the escalating violence and COVID-19 pandemic in isolated areas to deliver protection and humanitarian assistance to people in need,” he said. 

“The SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang Declaration is ready to grant access and offer protection to local NGOs and international agencies in its controlled areas.”

He added that war was not the solution and called on the international community and other regional bodies to summon all the armed opposition groups to negotiate their course with the Reconstituted Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU).

“I am here appealing to regional actors and the international community to initiate an inclusive political settlement to resolve the ongoing political, economic, and military crisis in South Sudan,” he continued.

“War is not and will never be the best choice to resolve political differences in South Sudan.”

The development came after he met with Chollo community elders and promised them his commitment to settle his differences with Johnson Olony, his former deputy.

“Gen Simon Gatwech Dual narrated the whole scenario and told Chollo Community elders that he is open and ready for a peaceful settlement,” Gach said.

Last week, the Minister of Information, Michael Makuei, clarified that the government was committed to securing the war-torn parts of Upper Nile State, but floods had paralysed the attempts to airlift the forces to those areas.