Government eyes Machar-Gatwech handshake

Government eyes Machar-Gatwech handshake
Riek Machar and Gen. Simon Gatwech (photo credit: Paradise News)

The government and the SPLM/A-IO Kit-Gwang faction led by Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual have begun negotiations to end the two-month conflict between the group and the First Vice President Dr Riek Machar.

The group led by Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual and his deputy Gen. Johnson Olony held the first meeting with the government’s delegation led by the Presidential Security Advisor, Tut Gatluak, on Saturday in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to prepare for the start of the talks.

Speaking at the meeting Mr Gatluak said, “We bring to you a greeting from President [Salva Kiir]. We have come so that we can negotiate because we want stability in our country.”

“We don’t want war again. We want to achieve peace, stability, and security in the Republic of South Sudan. We have come to inform you that we are ready for negotiation so that you prepare your team for us to begin negotiation, and to report to Sudan to play its role as the granter of [South Sudan] peace,” Gatluak said, as he also appealed to Kit-Gwang faction to prepare their demands for talks.

Gatluak was in Khartoum to discuss with the Sudanese government the resumption of peace talks with Gen. Abdal Aziz al-Hilu’s led SPLM-N to end the conflict in Sudan.

Gen. Gatwech, leader of the SPLM/A-IO breakaway group, commended the government’s initiative, saying it was what they were looking forward to so that peace can be achieved in the country.

“I am 100 per cent for peace. Secondly, today the government of South Sudan has arrived [in Khartoum], I am very, very happy and it is very important. This is the beginning, I have accepted the negotiation. I have my team, you come and negotiate with them,” said Gen. Gatwech.

Gen. Johnson Olony said, “Peace is very important just as our brothers in Sudan do tell us to accept. We need peace so peace cannot be achieved in a day, slowly by slowly we will achieve peace. Brothers can fight at the end they come together.”

Early August this year, Gen. Gatwech and his deputy Gen. Olony passed a declaration purporting to oust Dr Riek Machar as the chairperson of the party and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA-IO. They accused Machar of nepotism and failure to implement the security arrangement deal.

Since then, the rival forces of Dr Machar and Gen. Gatwech have been trading accusations of attacking each other’s position that threatens the ongoing peace implementation process.

Last month, the Kit-Gwang group expressed willingness for talks and called on the revitalised government to send a delegation to meet them in Khartoum for negotiations.

Gen. Olony was quoted by Radio Tamazuj in September, saying the Kit-Gwang splinter group does not intend to reinvent the wheel of the agreement but was ready to discuss one of the most contentious chapters with the government.

Olony was categorical that the focus of the outfit was to ensure that the Chapter Two of the 2018 Revitalised Peace Agreement was implemented.

Efforts for reconciliation

The talks to peace up the broken pieces of the SPLM-IO have been gaining momentum in the past few weeks.

For instance, last week the SPLM-IO Spokesperson Puok Both Baluang, who doubles as Dr Machar’s spokesperson, said the leadership of SPLM-IO welcomes any dialogue with the splinter group as it still considers them (Kit-Gwang members) part of the party.

“We will welcome them and we will talk because this is the internal matter of SPLM/A–IO and the leadership of SPLA-IO is more than ready to dialogue with them so that we can resolve this matter,” Baluang said.

Baluang urged their friends-turned-nemesis to yield to the ceasefire and embrace dialogue because they were also ready for the dame.

“The reasons for declaring their group as they all know was something we have been calling for and we think it is better to dialogue and resolve this concept for all,” he said.

The SPLM-IO spokesperson called on the South Sudanese to halt the cultures of rebellion and adopt the culture of dialogue to promote peace across the country.

“Our nature as South Sudanese sometimes we differ before we talk or we discuss. If there is an issue let’s discuss it first and resolve the matter,” Baluang stressed.

But Mr Baluang maintained that the dialogue would not be based on acknowledging the outfit as they had included in their precondition for talks.

As a matter of fact, he said “the three generals who declared the Kit-Gwang group were not politicians and they are not members of the Political Bureau.’’

“What they have done is contradictory [to] our constitution and the principle of the party and they had called for the dissolution of the leadership of SPLM/A-IO,” Baluang added.