Recent armed confrontations delay integration of forces

By Tereza Jeremiah Chuei

The head of Agwelek advance team in Juba, Paul Achot Achobek has blamed the recent armed confrontation in greater Upper Nile for delaying the integration of the Agwelek forces under General Johnson Olony into the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) as per the Khartoum Agreement inked between the SPLM-IG and the Agwelek forces.

Recently, there have been reports of clashes in Diel of Pigi County in Jonglei State, which triggered serious tongue waging amongst Dr. Riek Machar, Gen. Simon Gatwech and Gen. Johnson Olony military camps which had previously been under one central command of the SPLM/A-IO before its split.

Meanwhile the Spokesperson of the SSPDF, Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang clarified that the Khartoum agreement isn’t touched yet; reminding that even the integration of the forces isn’t touched either.

“The Agreement was signed between Kitgwang faction and the government but the agreement is not yet implemented, when it’s implemented their forces will be integrated into us (SSPDF) but until now there is no single step done yet, Agwelek is not under our command,” he told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper.

In January 2022, the government signed Khartoum Peace Agreement with SPLM-IO breakaway faction led by Gen. Simon Gatwech, and a separate agreement between the SPML-IG and Gen. Olony Agwelek forces was inked.

The agreement offered absolution to the leadership and forces of the SPLA-IO Kitgwang that had been fighting the SPLA-IO forces led by the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar.

Based on the Agreement, the Parties agreed to integrate the Agwelek forces into SSPDF subject to their remaining independent, respecting the ceasefire agreement.

Speaking to No.1 Citizens Daily Newspaper, Achot however said that “the clashes interrupted because instate of turning our forces to the areas assigned, we had to send them to where the clashes are happening and not the cantonment sites”.

He added that Agwelek had a meeting with the government due to the delay of the agreement, alleging that government later apologized for the delay.

“We had a meeting with the government and the government apologised for the delay, because of the current situation going on within the Country,” he stated.

Achot said they haven’t yet received any facilitation from the government as alleged by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) faction under Dr. Riek claiming that the Agwelek had been facilitated by the SPLM in government to attack Dr. Riek military camp.

“Kitgwang elements under the Command of Gen. Olong attacked our forces in Diel and they are being facilitated by our peace partners the SPLM- IG,” Lam Paul Gabriel the Spokesperson of IO alleged days ago.

“Up to now we haven’t received any facilitation from the government and even if what they claimed is true, what is wrong with that, we have a signed Agreement with the government and they acknowledged and even the First Vise President Riek Machar also do acknowledge, it’s a matter of time and we will be part of IG,” Achot, Agwelek forces Advance team head in Juba hinted.

Some few days ago, the SPLM/A-IO under Riek Machar accused Agwelek forces of General Johnson Olony of attacking their forces in Diel in Jonglei State, while the Agwelek blame Gen. Gatwech forces of fighting them.

The recent clashes made the three SPLM/A-IO splinter groups to wage tongues against themselves, with each side trying to play smart off the confrontations.

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