JUBA — South Sudan’s information minister Michael Makuei Lueth has revealed that President Salva Kiir has asked rival SPLA-IO factions led by First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar and General Simon Gatwech Dual to put their guns down saying “fighting is not a solution” to their differences.
General Gatwech is formerly the SPLA-IO chief of staff before breaking away to form a faction of his own in August 2021 following disagreements over the slow pace of the implementation of the security arrangements provided for in the revitalized peace agreement.
Since then, Gatwech’s forces and those still loyal to Machar in northern Upper Nile have been in conflicts with each accusing the other of initiating the fighting.
Last week, just before Christmas, fighting erupted in the Magenis area serving as the base of General Gatwech’s forces with General Gatwech accusing Machar’s forces of attacking him for weeks.
Later on, the SPLA-IO forces said they have moved to Sudan to avoid further clashes that cause displacement and suffering among civilians in the northern Upper Nile state territory, but Gen. Gatwech claimed that they had defeated Machar’s forces leaving them with no option other than surrendering their guns to the Sudanese army.
In an interview with the Juba-based Eye Radio, Makuei urged both sides to put down their guns revealing that the government has offered to mediate between them.
“My message to both sides is that they put down their guns and talk is the only way forward. We have been advising them all this time to sit down and talk,” Makuei who is also the government spokesman said.
“The government will be even ready to mediate if they accept. We have not received any real tangible response from the two parties so that we can meditate,” he added.
“Fighting is not a solution, the only solution comes through peace talks and I am advising them to put down their guns and sit on the table.”