JUBA – The commander of sector seven of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) led by First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny has issued a statement abandoning the First Vice President’s leadership of the SPLM-IO and joining controversial opposition commander General Simon Gatwech Dual’s SPLM-IO Kitgwang faction.
Gatwech last August attempted, following a three-day gathering of opposition commanders at Kitgwang in Magenis, to remove Dr. Riek as the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition accusing him of surrendering the security arrangements to President Salva Kiir Mayardit at the expense of opposition commanders who remained in the bush despite Machar’s return to Juba in February 2020.
Since then, several opposition commanders and troops have been making statements declaring allegiance to General Gatwech and his deputy, former SPLA-IO Sector One commander General Johnson Olony Thabo, and General Thomas Mabor Dhol of Sector Three in eastern Upper Nile state.
In a statement this afternoon, 1st Lt. Gen. Thomas Baselio Tendo Kali said he is no longer loyal to First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar and that he will start supporting General Simon Gatwech Dual in his talks with the government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit to implement the security arrangements provided for in the revitalized peace agreement.
“On my own behalf as the commander of Western Bahr el Ghazal Lions Front in SPLA-IO’s sector 7, and on behalf of the leaders, officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the front, we are making this statement to announce that we support the ongoing peace process between General Simon Gatwech Dual, the Interim Chairman and Commander in Chief of the SPLM/SPLA (IO),” Gen. Baselio said in the statement extended to Sudans Post.
“The leadership of Lieutenant-General General Simon Gatwech Dual and his deputy Lieutenant-General Johnson Olony are peace lovers and they believe that peace is the only way out to achieve the hopes and aspirations of our people through the implementation of the Security Arrangements provided for in the revitalized peace agreement and that our support is for the new leadership under Gen. Gatwech Dual in the search for a new way to achieve the aspirations and dreams of our people and ensuring stability for them,” he added.
He blamed negligence by Machar in the delay of the implementation of the security arrangements which he said has resulted in throwing of the opposition forces to an unknown fate.
“The negligence by the previous leadership on the security arrangements is about throwing the forces to an unknown fate that has no end. We want real peace, not the peace of personal interests, a peace in which all parties guarantee their rights and turning the pages of war once and for all through the merger of the forces to become unified forces with the sole mandate to protect the homeland and the people, not forces belonging to individuals or specific parties,” he said.
“With this, we declare with full confidence and determination to our military leaders in the field that the only way before us as an army to secure our rights is to join and fully support the Kitgwang Declaration (Magenis) under the leadership of General Simon Gatwech Dual and his deputy, General Johnson Olony, and from today onwards we are under the administration of the new command working together hand-in-hand until building peace and lasting stability for our people is achieved,” he concluded.