JUBA – South Sudan’s controversial opposition commander and leader of the breakaway SPLA-IO Kitgwang faction, General Simon Gatwech Dual, has returned to the Sudanese capital Khartoum following an invitation from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a spokesman allied to Gatwech has said.
In a statement, James Kalany Mamuon, Gen. Gatwech’s media aide, said the invitation came as part of regional efforts to push for talks between President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s government and General Gatwech’s group in a bid to curtail outbreak of escalatory violence in northern Upper Nile state.
“The office of the Press Secretary, would like to inform the entire movement that, the Chairman and the Commander in Chief, of SPLM/A (IO) 1st Lt Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, accompanied by some senior officers within the SPLA (IO) rank and file, arrived to Khartoum this morning from Magenis/Kitgwang on the invitation of the IGAD (Sudan) to attend face to face meeting with the delegation of Government of South Sudan in Khartoum,” Mamuon said in a statement extended to Sudans Post on Sunday afternoon.
The senior opposition official further said the upcoming peace negotiation between them and President Kiir’s government is expected to discuss “the prospect of peace, the recent fighting in Magenis, and charts way forward to prevent any future wrangling at the border of Sudan.”
The IGAD call for talks comes a week after renewed clashes between General Simon Gatwech’s forces and those loyal to First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny in northern Upper Nile’s Magenis where Gatwech’s forces have dislodged Machar’s forces following weeks of fighting that begun around Christmas last year.
SPLA-IO forces allied to Machar have entered a Sudanese army base located at Sudan-South Sudan border to seek protection following flare up of fighting with General Simon Gatwech’s forces.
General Yak Dayiem, the SPLA-IO Sector One commander who replaced Olony last August, has reportedly been flown to the Sudanese capital Khartoum after surrendering to the Sudanese army.
President Kiir last month offered to mediate between Machar and Gatwech and Machar’s group has expressed readiness for talks, but General Gatwech has made it very clear that his group was not ready for any negotiation with Machar, accusing him of attempts to take his life.