Rebel delegate arrives in South Sudan capital in boost to peace

Tapeng Michael Ohure

Leaders from a rebellious opposition group have arrived in South Sudan’s capital, a sign of reversal of increasing insecurity in the north of the country.

The group known as Kitgwang faction reached a peaceful settlement to grievances with the government this week.

They split from the main opposition SPLM-IO led by First Vice President Dr Riek Machar in August last year, claiming he failed in leading the party democratically.

Under Machar’s former subordinate General Simon Gatwech Dual and allied Agwelek forces under Johnson Olony, the group engaged Machar’s forces in running battles leading to a peace deal with the government in Khartoum, the capital of neighboring Sudan.

“We want peace to prevail in this country, this is our main purpose, this is what we need. This country cannot take any more war, we have to agree that enough is enough, we killed ourselves enough,” General Paul Achut Nyibek who led the advance team told reporters at Juba International Airport.
“So, when peace comes nobody can stop it. If I am here today, Johnson Olony will be here tomorrow, and Simon Gatwech will be here the next day, and anybody who belongs to this group will be here as soon as possible,” he said.

“But we have to put our hands together so that we put this country to where we want to take it.”

While receiving the group, Jokino Fidel, who was part of the government delegation to the peace pact revealed the deal also agreed to resolve longstanding land issues in Upper Nile State.

“We agreed with them on so many things including the 2018 ceasefire. We are going to canton the SPLA-IO forces in Kitgwang and after their cantonment, they will be integrated into SSPDF,” Fidel said.

“The Agwelek in particular were fighting for the land, and we agreed with them as agreed on the 2018 revitalized peace agreement that internal boundaries of South Sudan tribes will be based on the 1/1/1956. And both of us signed the document on that issue because the Agwelek group itself was fighting for the land, not political positions.”

An Agwelek elder, John Opec Akokjak said years of conflict with the government has not benefited the Chollo community and that peace was a solution to the crisis.

“We as the elders of Shiluk we are not benefiting anything from the war, and our leader Johnson Olony is for peace from the beginning,” Akokjak said.

“His struggle was not because of marginalization, and we were waiting for a genuine peace which we now come for, and if Chollo is not in peace, South Sudan is not in peace.”

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