Machar ready to reunite with Gatwech
The First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar and his former Chief of Staff—an ally-turned foe— Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual could be poised for a ceasefire handshake to bury the months-long feud eating into the opposition outfit.
The City Review can exclusively reveal that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) faction allied to Dr. Machar is ready for talks with the Kit-Gwang faction to resolve their internal wrangles.
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.
He said had the Kit-Gwang faction presented their grievances to the leadership before defection; they would have been resolved.
Baluang urged the group to cease hostilities and accept dialogue so that citizens can enjoy the peace dividend.
“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.
Earlier this week, the Kit-Gwang faction led Gen. Simon Gatwech set a precondition for talks with Dr. Machar, saying Machar should first endorse the Kit-Gwang Declaration before the group enters into dialogue with him.
“Moreover, due to these continuing attacks, we have ruled out that no more dialogue with Dr. Riek Machar unless he endorses the Kit-Gwang declaration,” the statement read in part.
The declaration which was pronounced in Magenis, Upper Nile, ruled that Dr. Machar was never recognized as the face and leader of the outfit after the group purported to have stripped him of all the powers he enjoys as the First Vice President.
But when asked about the party’s perception of the preconditions set by the rivals, Baluang said the declaration of the Kit-Gwang Declaration was in contravention of the constitution and principle of SPLM/A-IO, adding that the group interfered with the work of the Political Bureau.
“The three generals who declared the Kit-Gwang group were not politicians and they are not members of the Political Bureau,” he stated.
“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.
He said the declaration to dissolve the whole structures of the SPLM/A-IO liberation council and the political bureau by Gen. Gatwech’s group was illegal according to the constitution of SPLM/A-IO.
“It is unrealistic to accept their declaration while it is illegal according to our constitution unless they want us to adopt something else and we will accept to dialogue with them on how to resolve the matter if they have [heeded] to the ceasefire,” he stressed.
The wrangles within the SPLM/A-IO started when the party leader Dr. Machar removed his former Chief of Staff Simon Gatwech after the latter was appointed as presidential advisor on peace and two other generals including Gen. Johnson Olony.
Since then, both the regional and international community including the UN have called on the SPLM/A-IO to sit down and dialogue to resolve their internal party differences. The body has expressed concern that division among the SPLM/A-IO would affect the implementation of the 2018 peace agreement.
The disagreement pulling the SPLM/A-IO apart inspired a wave of defections within the party, with many loyalists crossing the floor to Gatwech’s side.
One of the defectors was the former minister of mining Henry Odwar who tendered his resignation and sided with the Magenis-based faction. The others were Manasseh Zindoh and Mabior Garang de Mabior.
However, in the mid-last month, Dr. Machar through the Political Bureau accepted the decision of the defectors and expunged their membership as per Article 10.5 of the party’s constitution.
“…the member(s) shall lose his/ her membership if “engages in activities that undermine the objectives and policies of the Movement,’’ the party’s statement noted and added: “As such, they have lost their membership per the SPLM(IO) Constitution,” the statement reads in part.
In the same month, Mr. Mabior said in a podcast interview that the outfit harbored a personal vendetta against Machar but was just pushing for the implementation of the peace agreement.
“What we need is the implementation of the security arrangement for peace so that we can all go home and build our broken lives; the issue is not the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar,” Garang told Education Podcast in an interview.
“The Kit-Gwang declaration is another chance for peace, real peace in South Sudan engine is in the implementation of the security arrangement the rest have nothing much,” he added.
This week, civil society activist Edmund Yakani called on Dr. Machar and Gen. Gatwech to dialogue to prevent any further bloodshed in the country.