SSPDF, Gatwech forces to integrate

SSPDF, Gatwech forces to integrate
Kit Gwang and government representatives sign agreement papers in Sudanese capital Khartoum on 16/01/2022. [Photo: Courtesy]

The South Sudan People’s Defence Force (SSPDF) and forces loyal to the SPLM/A-IO splinter group loyal to Gen. Simon Gatwech have agreed to integrate.

This comes after the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) under President Salva Kiir has reached a deal with the SPLA-IO breakaway movement to end the five-month conflict in Upper Nile State.

The agreement that covers the land, military, and political issues was signed between Gen. Akol Koor Kuc, the Internal Security Bureau on behalf of the government and Gen. Johnson Olony, Chairman of Agwelek Forces on behalf of the Kit Gwang faction in Sudan capital, Khartoum on Sunday.

The signing was witnessed by Tut Gatluak, Presidential Advisor on National Security, John Opec Akokjak, Editor, Community leader, and Victoria Arop Odhong, the Women Representative.  

According to the agreement, the parties agreed to integrate forces of the Agwelek forces into the SSPDF, and in the meantime, Agwelek forces shall remain independent respect ceasefire, and government to grant them amnesty within a week.

They also agreed on the allocation of political positions to the Agwelek forces with details to be negotiated, and the maintaining of the community boundary in accordance with the 1/1/1956, among other agreements.  

Mr Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of CEPO welcomed the deal saying the Kit Gwang SPLA-IO faction – SPLM-IG deal sounds good in relation to the prevention of armed violence that claims lives and properties of innocent civilians in the Upper Nile state.

However, Mr Yakani pointed out that the agreement, if implemented, would be violated Chapter Two of the security arrangement that prohibits new recruitment, training, and graduation of forces by the parties during the transitional period.

“The signing of the ceasefire agreement without the full participation of the RTGNOU is contradicting the cessation of hostilities agreement. 2017 provision in article 2.1.8 on the prohibition of recruitment during the period of implementing the Revitalize Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan,” said Yakani.

The 2018 peace deal gives no more room for accommodation which the question of power-sharing provided under Chapter One of the peace agreement could be another perceived stumbling block to the Khartoum deal.

Under Chapter 1.16, of the responsibility sharing ratio, the Transitional of Government of National Unity (TGoNU) shall have 55 per cent, the SPLM/A-IO shall be allocated 27 per, SSOA and FD shall have 10 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

Talks between President Kiir and Gen. Gatwech began in October last year following the Kit-Gwang breakaway in August 2021, claiming the SPLM/A-IO leadership from the First Vice President, Dr Riek Machar.

The move resulted in several clashes between Dr Machar’s forces and those of Gen. Gatwech’s that claimed dozens of lives, displaced many locals, as well as threatened the ongoing revitalized peace implementation.