SPLA-IO ‘unfazed’ by another defection to Kit-Gwang

SPLA-IO ‘unfazed’ by another defection to Kit-Gwang
SPLM-IO Chairman Dr. Riek Machar Teny (photo credit: Mail & Guardian)

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) under Dr. Riek Machar in Western Bahr el-Ghazal State has downplayed the impact of Gen Thomas Bizilio’s defection to the Kit-Gwang faction.

On October 6, Gen. Thomas Bizilio issued a statement, declaring his allegiance to the Kit-Gwang political outfit led by Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual.

Bizilio accused SPLM/A-IO under the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar of delaying the implementation of the security arrangements.

Gen. Bazilio, who claimed the commandership of Sector 7 in Western Bahr el Ghazal, said in the statement that the leadership of the SPLM/A-IO had lost the vision in the organization.

Answering back

In response, the SPLA-IO in Western Bahr el- Ghazal State dismissed Gen. Bizilio’s claims as baseless accusations, saying Dr. Machar was not the stumbling block causing the delay in the security arrangement implementation. 

“His declaration of joining Kit-Gwang group is a personal decision. It does not represent the Lions of Sector 7, Western Bahr el Ghazal front,” said Gen. Ashhab Khamis Fahal Ukanda member of Military High Command Council. 

“His accusations to SPLM- IO leadership for not taking care to the implementation of Chapter Two of the security arrangement is baseless. The source of the delay is well-known to each and everyone.”

Gen. Khamis said the top SPLM-IO leadership was handling the delay of the implementation of the security arrangement that has caused a split in the organization with patience and wisdom so that the country does not return to war. 

He said Gen. Bizilio’s decision to join the Kit-Gwang faction was a matter of individual choice that did not represent the position of the SPLM/A-IO members in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

“We respect any individual decision based on our belief in the freedom of expression and right of everyone to decide his future, but we do not accept any an individual to return to his position as the concept of all especially in the issue that has something to do with consent.”

The Chapter Two of the security arrangement has been one of the outstanding tasks in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement that has resulted in shift allegiance within Dr. Machar’s movement.

Over the weekend, Gen. Gatwech and his group accused the First Vice President of using force in trying to resolve the matter forcefully.

In the position letter over the weekend, the group said, “We, therefore, condemn the attempts by the FVP to resolve the split in the SPLM/SPLA-IO using violence.” 

The Kit-Gwang faction who initiated dialogue with the government pointed out that the country would not attain lasting political stability in South Sudan without full implementation of the security arrangement protocol.

“It is only through the implementation of the Security Arrangements as laid out in Chapter Two of the Revitalised Peace Agreement, can we attain political stability in our country,” Gen. Gatwech said in a position letter over the weekend.

Previous defections

Gen Bizilio joins a long list of defectors who have crossed over to the Kit-Gwang outfit alleging loss of vision in the party.

In August 2021, Maj. Gen. Khor Chuol defected to Kit-Gwang with three other officers and SPLA-IO leadership urged him to tag his supporters along.

“Much as it is his right to associate humanly, the R-ARCSS considers defections as a violation which needs to be strongly condemned by all parties to the agreement,’’ the SPLA-IO Spokesperson Col. Lam Paul Gabriel noted in a statement.

“The SPLA-IO wishes Maj. Gen. Khor Chuol is well where he is going and urges him to move his supporters out of Malual Gahoth being an area under the control of the SPLA-IO as these sponsored defections always end in attacks against the SPLA-IO forces,” he added. 

Another high-profile defection also involved the former Minister of Mining Henry Dilah Odwar, who tendered his resignation from the party’s leadership in mid-August.

“We, the undersigned members of the SPLM-(IO) in our various capacities in the PB, NLC, Committees, Country Representatives, and SPLM-(IO) passionate cadres endorse the Kit-Gwang Declaration and give our blessings to the Interim leadership of Lt. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual and his team to steer the Movement and chart a more democratic and people-centered path,” Odwar noted in his letter.