National, News

President Kiir, Gen. Olony agree army integration

By Philip Buda Ladu

A long-anticipated meeting between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the commander of the Agwelek Forces, Gen. Johnson Olony Thabo has at last come to pass on Wednesday.

Implementation of Khartoum agreement on integration of Agwelek Forces into the national army, the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSDPF), was a key agenda between the two leaders.

Office of the President reported in a statement on Facebook page that president Kiir during the meeting appreciated Gen. Olony for a positive response towards building peace in the country.

“We are happy that you have accepted to come to Juba to join the peace process. We want peace and we are ready and committed to pulling the country into the trajectory of peace and stability,” Kiir was quoted.

President Kiir urged General Olony to take serious steps towards peace in order to end the suffering, especially his own people in the Upper Nile region.

“If you have come for peace, please come with the hearts of peace. We don’t want to see anyone going back to the bush, because South Sudan is too big, and it has enough to cater for all of us” Kiir asserted.

For his part, Gen. Olony conveyed his gratitude for a satisfactory reception meeting.

“We want to truly tell you Mr. President that we have wholeheartedly come for peace, and we don’t want other people in the middle to spoil this peace” President’s office quoted Gen. Olony.

Meanwhile, Presidential Affairs Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the coming of Gen. Olony signifies the importance of peace and unity for the country.

He disclosed that President Kiir in the meeting directed Defense officials and all Security institutions to expedite the incorporation of Agwelek Forces into the national army, as in the Khartoum agreement.

Gen. Olony arrived in Juba last month with over 200 forces, to implement the Khartoum agreement signed with the government in 2022.

The agreement was signed by security advisor, Tut Gatluak, Director-General of the National Security’s Internal Security Bureau, Akol Koor, and the SSPDF Military Intelligence Director General Stephen Marshal on behalf of the South Sudan government.

Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual and his deputy, Gen. Johnson Olony signed the deal on behalf of their SPLM/A-IO breakaway Kitgwang faction.

The agreement entailed that; the government facilitates the creation of coordination offices in Juba, Malakal, and Bor to assist in the process of assembling and reintegrating the Kitgwang faction.

It also guarantees the implementation of the security arrangements and a permanent ceasefire.

Granting the Kitgwang faction amnesty, containment and reintegration of the breakaway forces into the SSPDF within three months, are among other components of the agreement.

The Kitgwang faction under Gen Gatwech, however, became disappointed months after the signing of the peace deal and blamed the government for not implementing it.

Gen. Gatwech and Olony later fell out, with the former firing the latter as his deputy, emanating to several clashes among their forces.

Gen. Olony later considered pursuing peace and he expressed the willing to come to Juba.

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