Kit Gwang leaders commit to unity, mend cracks in SPLA-IO splinter group

Kit Gwang leaders commit to unity, mend cracks in SPLA-IO splinter group
The Chairman and C-IN-C of Kit Gwang Splinter group, Simon Gatwech Dual (left) and his deputy Johnson Olony Thubo. [Photo: courtesy]

Kit Gwang faction of the SPLM/A-IO has rubbished reports alleging a political divorce involving its two leaders: Gen Simon Gatwech Dual and Gen Johnson Olony. 

 The outfit, which comprises Agwelek forces and the forces of Gen Gatwech dismissed allegations of division and ousting of the latter by Olony as the chairman of the movement. Olony is deputising Gatwech under Kit Gwang. 

Speaking to The City Review, the spokesperson of Kit Gwang leader, Alfred Gach Thot, acknowledged the existence of a ‘‘little misunderstanding’’ between Gatwech and Olony, but not to the extent of leading to Gatwech’s ouster as the leader. 

“I was not aware of that declaration to take over the Chairmanship from 1st Lt.Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, you can recall back the interview made by Gen.Johnson Olony two weeks ago,” Thot said in a statement. 

“He denied the split within the file and ranks of the SPLA/M-IO kit Gwang movement and vowed that he (was) still under the leadership of SPLA/M-IO kit Gwang under overall chairmanship 1st Lt. Gen.Simon Gatwech Dual. All we all know is that a little misunderstanding happened a few weeks ago but it did not go to the extent of the breakaway.”

According to Thot, the misunderstanding which took place was in regard to January 16, 2022, security arrangements, but it was contained.

“The misunderstanding happened on the nature of interpretation of the 16 January deal, signed under security arrangements. Now the two can sit and solve the issue any time and they still trust themselves and even all our officers that were detained are all released three days ago,” he said.

“They were detained by Gen. Paromi Angui, the deputy Agwelek Division during the aftermath of a misunderstanding in Magenis. I will not comment on the fate of the signed 16 January agreement since our chairman is here to give his view on it but what I know, our chairman is a man of peace and he is ready to discuss peace with any peace lovers’ advocators.”

Peace spoilers

Paul Achot Achobek, head of the Agwelek delegation in Juba, also dismissed the allegations saying that they were unfounded.

He shed light on the promise made by the deputy chairman and Commander-in-Chief of Kit Gwang splinter group not to turn his back on Kit Gwang faction and that Lt Gen Simon Gatwech Dual would remain the chairperson of the movement.

“I think about a week ago, there was an interview by Johnson Olony regarding what you just mentioned. And he stated clearly that there is no change in command of Kit Gwang, Simon Gatwech is still the leader of Kit Gwang and Commander-in-Chief, and deputised by Johnson Olony Thubo.”

Supporting Khartoum peace deal

Achot added that such allegations were created by people whom he called “anti-peace” who try to slow down the pace of the implementation of the Khartoum Peace Agreement.

“What you have just mentioned is an unfounded allegation. To be frank with you, there are some elements who actually want this to happen. They are anti-peace and want to advance their agenda,” the Agwelek head of delegation said. 

“They don’t want this peace agreement to be implemented, and so they resort to releasing such allegations so that the peace is not implemented. And that allegation is unfounded.”

On January 16, 2022, the government delegation led by the Presidential Advisor on Security Affairs, Tut Gatluak Manime, signed a peace deal with Simon Gatwech’s Kit Gwang and Agwelek forces of Johnson Olony that are part of SPLA-IO Kit Gwang splinter group.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit granted Kit Gwang forces amnesty, and asked them to apologize to the people of South Sudan for what he called “wrongdoing.”

The agreement stipulated that Kit Gwang be integrated into South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF), and SSPDF would provide the necessary logistics for coordination of transfer of forces from Magenis, Northern Upper Nile to restore peace and stability in the area.

Last month, Gatwech called for his delegation to be allowed to meet President Salva Kiir Mayardit, or given a chance to return to Khartoum, citing the dragging implementation of the Khartoum Peace Agreement.

He threatened to return to the bush should any of the requirements not be put to effect. However, his delegation met with President Salva Kiir Mayardit who reportedly promised implementation of the Khartoum Peace Agreement.