KHARTOUM – South Sudan opposition commander and leader of the break-away SPLA-IO Kitgwang faction is reportedly reluctant to return to the country’s capital Juba, saying a genuine implementation of the agreement with President Kiir will better inform his return to the world’s youngest country.
Gatwech, a controversial opposition commander under the United Kingdom sanctions, signed a peace agreement with President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s government last week in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, paving way for integration of his forces into the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF).
General Johnson Olony Thabo, a former SPLA-IO sector one commander who was appointed by Gatwech as his deputy in August last year, also signed a separate agreement with Kiir’s government providing for the integration of his forces into the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces as well.
Over the weekend, almost immediately following the signing of the “Khartoum Agreement”, the Kitgwang generals sent a high-level delegation to the South Sudan’s capital Juba to prepare for the beginning of the implementation of the deal critics have termed a ‘defection agreement”.
The delegation’s arrival in Juba was initially expected to pave the way for the return of General Simon Gatwech, General Olony, and General Thomas Mabor Dhol, but an opposition diplomat who is close to Gen. Gatwech and Olony said the commanders are reluctant to return and that he told a meeting of high-ranking Kitgwang officers that his return will be determined by the implementation of the deal.
“What I am trying to tell you is that General Gatwech and General Olony are not returning to Juba now and he has told a meeting attended by senior officers of the movement that their return to Juba will base on the pace of the implementation of the agreement signed in Khartoum last week,” the diplomat who requested not to be named told Sudans Post in Khartoum.
“So, it is not clear when our leaders will go to Juba because the first signs of if the agreement will be implemented in letter and spirit will determine and better inform the return of H.E Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual to Juba and we will know this soon,” the senior opposition diplomat added.