By William Madouk Garang
The leader of SPLM-IO Kitgwang faction Simon Gatwech said the Agwelek forces under Gen. Johnson Olony are no longer affiliated to Kitgwang and their atrocious crime against humanity shouldn’t be counted on the Kitgwang faction.
On Friday, the trio SPLM/A-IO loyal to Dr. Riek Machar accused forces allied to Johnson Olony of attacking their forces. However, the latter denied and pointed fingers at Kitgwang forces.
The spokesperson of Gatwech, Brig. Gen. Alfred Gach Thot, vehemently refuted the allegation of Olony accusing Kitgwang of attack terming it as baseless, adding that they don’t have forces in Diel and Phom respectively.
In a press statement extended to No.1 Citizen Newspaper, Thot said forces of Gen. Olony are solely without directives from Kitgwang command and as such Agwelek forces are no longer allies.
“It’s the rebellious wing of Agwelek division under Gen. Johnson Olony which for the reasons best known to them, launched string of attacks on Machar’s forces stationing at twin areas of Diel and Phom without directive of SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang leadership,” Thot said in a statement.
“We duly inform the people of South Sudan, IGAD and International Community that, the Agwelek forces under Gen. Johnson Olony are no longer affiliated to SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang under Simon Gatwech,” he declared.
He said any dreadful crimes against humanity committed by Agwelek forces of Olony across the Country shouldn’t be counted on Kitgwang, asserting that they are responsible army who respect laws.
“As a responsible armed force governed by rule of law and international convention, we condemn in the strongest terms possible the Agwelek forces’ act of provocation against innocent civilians of greater Fangak areas,” he continued.
Gatwech mouthpiece further said the SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang is truly committed to the peaceful resolution of conflict through their leadership advance team sent to Juba early this year.
According to UN Agency, the new clashes between armed factions in Tunga and neighboring Panyikang County in Upper Nile State have displaced at least 27,000 people.
The agency also said some 100 people sought sanctuary at Malakal Protection of Civilians’ Site, with more people fleeing to locations in Fangak County in Jonglei State.
“As of 19th August, clashes were ongoing in Diel town in Atar Boma, Pigi County, and north of New Fangak. Civilians, predominantly the elderly women and children, were fleeing Diel and New Fangak leaving their belongings behind,” the agency said.
Paul Achot Achobek, the head of Agwelek forces earlier said Gatwech has reneged on the Khartoum agreement that he had signed with SPLM-IG under Kiir, adding that he is now championing regime change.
“Last evening on 18th August, 2022 at around 6:15 pm, our forces travelling from Atar to Tunga came under heavy gunfire in the town of Diel, of Upper Nile State by elements belonging to Gen. Simon Gatwech and his new anti-peace allies,” Achobek said. Meanwhile, Lam Paul Gabriel, the spokesperson of SPLM/A-IO under Machar said: “the Kitgwang elements under the command of Gen. Johnson Olony Agwelek forces attacked our (SPLA—IO) position in Diel and they are being facilitated by our peace partner IG security to move them to Malakal before they later retreated their movement three days ago”.