Gatwech threatens to return to the bush

Gatwech threatens to return to the bush
The Chairman of SPLA-IO Kit Gwang splinter group, Simon Gatwech Dual. [Photo: Courtesy]

Gen Simon Gatwech Dual has threatened to break the Khartoum Peace Agreement and “return to the bush” unless the government honours her end of the bargain.

Gatwech who is the chairman of the Kit Gwang faction cited “delays in the integration” of his forces into the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) as the major cause of his concerns.

He decried the delayed implementation of the Khartoum Agreement, which entailed the inclusion of the Kit Gwang and Agwelek Forces (of Gen Johnson Olony) into SSPDF.

The unification of forces was factored in to end the deadlock between the SPLA-IO led by Dr Riek Machar Teny, and Kit Gwang faction of Gatwech.

The process was set to take place last March but was put on hold until a unified command structure was established.

They were excluded.

But as the country awaits the graduation of unified forces, a breakthrough in security arrangements critical to Chapter Two of R-ARCSS could be looming.

In a video seen by The City Review, Gatwech demanded that Agwelek delegates be allowed to return to Khartoum.

“I am (here) for peace. I want my delegation to return to Khartoum. I the government refuses, then I will return to the bush,” Gatwech complained, in an interview with Sudans Post.

He added: “My agreement is not implemented, and the government wants it to spend three years like one of Riek Machar.”

Gatwech further claimed that the Presidential Security Advisor, Tut Gatluak Manime, and the Director-General of Internal Security Bureau, Akol Koor Kuc, coerced him into signing the Khartoum Peace Agreement but never they never fulfilled the promises.

“My delegates have not met the president up to now, and if the government does not [meet them] then I will [not] be convinced. “Akol said three days ago that Agwelek would be part of Kit Gwang, but he didn’t do that,” he added.

Kit Gwang and Agwelek delegations arrived in Juba after the peace agreement was signed in Khartoum, to follow up on the progress of the integration of forces.

Yet to respond

Attempts to reach the Minister for Information, Michael Makuei Lueth, the Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Dr Martin Elia Lomuro, and the Press Secretary in the office of the President, Ateny Wek Ateny, for a comment were futile.

The SSPDF Spokesperson, Maj Gen Lul Ruai Koang, said he was abroad and could not comment on the matter, but referred The City Review to the Executive Director in the office of the SSPDF Chief of Defense Forces, who is the acting spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Santo Domic Chol.

Chol said he was not allowed to comment on military affairs.

Overlapping agreements

The Khartoum Peace Agreement was signed on January 16, 2022. Under the deal, President Salva Kiir granted Kit Gwang faction amnesty, asking them to apologise to citizens of South Sudan for wrongdoing.

Part of the deal was the formation of a Joint Security Committee tasked with overseeing the integration of Kit Gwang into the SSPDF effectively three months after penning the agreement.

Political analysts argue that integrating Kit Gwang mid-way into the peace deal could not interfere with the peace agreement. They also noted that SPLA-IO is the main player in R-ARCSS and could not necessarily have members replaced with Kit Gwang officers.

Kiir nonetheless confirmed the ranks of SPLA-IO and SSOA officers, and formed the unified command structure in April 2022, excluding Kit Gwang officers in ranks.

After a meeting with Kiir, the Agwelek forces’ delegates briefed the president on Khartoum Peace Agreement and promised not to return to war.