Kiir invites Gatwech, Olony to Juba

Kiir invites Gatwech, Olony to Juba
President Salva Kiir (photo credit: courtesy)

The government has invited the SPLA-IO breakaway faction leader Gen. Simon Gatwech and his Deputy Gen. Johnson Olony Thabo to Juba in a bid to boost the trust, the Sudanese media reported.

This comes after the Presidential Security Advisor, Tut Gatluak met with the group in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. 

Last week President Salva Kiir sent Gatluak and the government delegation to Khartoum and met with the group and they been given the invitation. It was not clear when exactly the two leaders of the breakaway will come to Juba.

On Monday Gatluak told the media in Sudan that the government of South Sudan had extended an invitation to Gen.Gatwech and his Deputy Olony to visit Juba to build confidence and trust between the SPLM/A-IO factions.

He said the team shall be escorted and accompany by the Khartoum delegation if they have agreed to come to Juba. 

Speaking to The City Review yesterday, the Presidential Press Secretary Ateny Wek Ateny confirmed that the government delegation who was still in Khartoum had met with the Kit-Gwang group and that they had agreed to kick off the negotiation.

Bridging the difference

The wantaway faction met a delegation sent by President Kiir in Khartoum last week, where they expressed 100 percent willingness to dialogue for peace but did so with preconditions before formalizing the pact. 

Reports emerged in the past few days this week that Olony and Gatwech had issued tough conditions, among them taking over seats already allocated to the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, who is a peace partner. 

This stance spoilt the moods of their former party members who had expressed delight at the prospects of reuniting with them if they dropped the allegiance to Kit-Gwang declaration. 

On Wednesday, the SPLM/A-IO leadership told the City review that the Kit-Gwang faction under the leadership of Gen. Simon Gatwech is no longer part of the SPLM/A-IO political bureau and military council as far as they know it.

SPLM/A-IO Director for Information and Public Relation Puok Both Baluang said that Gen Gatwech, Olony, and other commanders have no decisions to make on behalf of the SPLM/A-IO because they had been removed from all their positions after the declaration of Kit-Gwang on June 27, 2021.

“None of the Kit-Gwang members [is] part of the SPLM/A-IO including being a member of the political bureau. The three commanders are no longer in the Military Council of the SPLM/A-IO [and] therefore they cannot come up with the decision on behalf of the SPLM/A-IO,” Baluang told City Review on telephone interview on Wednesday. 

“The SPLM/A-IO is not a political armed military movement, the decision should not be taken by the army. Decision making in the SPLM/A-IO first comes from the political bureau, none of these Kitgwang people is a member of the political bureau,” he added.

Baluang argued that commanders of Kit-Gwang entered SPLM/A through the military council and that comprises Chairman Dr. Riek Machar–the chairman— and the former Chief of Staff Gen Gatwech. He said Gatwech’s position remains vacant because of the declaration of the Kit-Gwang people break away from SPLM/A –IO party.

Mr. Baluang said the term the declarations of Kit-Gwang was illicit because it breached the SPLM/A-IO vision.

“Gen. Simon Gatwech has been relieved from Chief of Staff on the 27th of June 2021 after he violated the appointment by the President as Presidential Advisor on Security.

“Even if they were still faction commanders they don’t have a forum in the party because they were relieved from these success commanders,” Baluang said.

Earlier in August, Gen. Johnson Olony, deputy commander of the SPLA-IO Kit-Gwang faction reportedly said they were negotiating with President Salva Kiir to push for the implementation of the security arrangements.

Olony claimed in an interview with Tamazuj that Kit-Gwang’s declaration was to inform President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar as well as the citizens that implementation of the peace agreement was not going well because they [SPLM/A-IO] had been left in the bush while other people in SPLA-IO including Dr. Machar had assumed their positions and cut off communication.

Gen. Olony reportedly said they were willing to join the peace agreement and the government as the leaders of the military who were abandoned in the bush.