SPLM/A-IO disowns Kit-Gwang faction

SPLM/A-IO disowns Kit-Gwang faction
Puok Both Baluang, Acting Press Secretary in the office of the First Vice President (photo credit: courtesy)

Barely a week after vouching for the reunion with the splinter political outfit, Kit-Gwang, on the premise that they are not ”fully divorced”, the Sudan People Liberation Movement /Army In –Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) under the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar has made a U-turn on their stance saying the faction is not part of them.

The SPLM/A-IO allied to Dr. Machar holds the view 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.

The development comes in the wake of efforts by the government to begin talks with the wantaway faction to help speed up the contentious yet salient Chapter Two of the Revitalised Peace Agreement.

The Kit-Gwang faction recently met a delegation led by the Presidential Security Advisor Tut Gatluak in Khartoum where they expressed ‘100 percent willingness’ to dialogue for peace but left the room to slot in preconditions.

However, these preconditions may have rubbed the pro-Machar camp the wrong way.

By yesterday, reports emerged that Gen. Gatwech and Gen. Johnson Olony and their faction in entirety had demanded all the positions allocated to SPLM/A-IO by the Revitalised Peace Agreement signed in 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Such includes the positions of First Vice President, the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs, and other ministries, governors, members of national legislature and council of states, foreign missions, and ambassadors.

‘Not possible’

SPLM/A-IO Director for Information and Public Relation Puok Both Bualang said the Kit-Gwang group in Magenis, including Gen. Gatwech and other commanders, have no decisions to make on behalf of the SPLM/A-IO because they have been relieved 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 yesterday. 

“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.

He said the commanders of Kit-Gwang entered  SPLM/A through the military council and that comprises Chairman Dr. Riek Machar and the former Chief of Staff Gen Gatwech. He said Gatwch’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 unlawful because it was not based on 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.