Kit-Gwang leaders still in frantic search for ceasefire

Kit-Gwang leaders still in frantic search for ceasefire
Kitgwang chairman, Simon Gatwech and his deputy Johnson Olony sign agreement in Khartoum Sudan on January 16, 2022. [Photo: Courtesy]

The leadership of the Kitgwang splinter group is still mending the rift within the outfit days after forces allied to its chairman, Gen Simon Gatwech, clashed with Agwelek forces, allied to Johnson Olony.

Yesterday, Gatwech’s spokesperson, Alfred Gach Thot, said the two leaders were struggling to tame further hostilities between the two Kitgwang forces.

Our leadership is working hard to normalise the situation. Both 1st Lt Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual and his deputy Gen. Johnson Olony are working hard (to) cease any hostility among the two forces and opted to solve the issue through peaceful means,” Thot said yesterday.

Thot and the head of the Agwelek delegation in Juba said last week rubbished the possibility of deposing Simon Gatwech as the Kitgwang chairman, although grapevines point to a possibility of his ouster by his deputy, Olony. 

But Gatwech’s spokesperson said there was still no tangible progress in the implementation of the Khartoum Peace Agreement for the integration of Kitgwang forces into the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF).

The two forces clashed last week at Wij Panyikang near Panyikang County, leaving at least 18 people dead.

The disagreement reportedly stemmed from the thorny issues on the Khartoum Peace Agreement signed on January 16, 2022, by the government and Kitgwang faction of SPLM/A-IO to end the bloodshed in Upper Nile State.

“The SPLA-IO Kitgwang under the wise and able leadership of 1st Lt Gen Simon Gatwech Dual is deeply concerned about the ongoing clashes within SPLA-IO Kitgwang which also involved the killing of innocent civilians in Wunkur village and the SPLA-IO Kitgwang call to end the violent and the misunderstanding can be resolved amicably by the two leaders,” Gach stated.

He stressed that the speculations about the forceful replacement of Gatwech were“fake and baseless”.

The Head of the Agwelek forces’ delegation in Juba, Paul Achot Achobek, told the City Review two weeks ago that Johnson Olony was still under the leadership of Simon Gatwech Dual.

“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 Kitgwang, Simon Gatwech is still the leader of Kitgwang and Commander-in-Chief, and deputised by Johnson Olony Thubo,” Achot clarified. 

The Agwelek Head of delegation warned against the allegations about an ouster saying they were instigated by what he called an “anti-peace” group who wish to spoil Khartoum Peace Agreement.

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

The government delegation led by the Presidential Advisor on National Security, Tut Gatluak Manime, struck a peace agreement with Kit Gwang forces and Agwelek forces to restore peace and stability in Northern Upper Nile on January 16, 2022.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit accepted back Kitgwang members and issued them an amnesty. He urged them to apologize to the people of South Sudan for what he called “wrongdoing.”