August 4, 2011 (JUBA) – A rebel group led by Peter Gadet Yak declared Wednesday a ceasefire with the South Sudan government, but other members of the same rebel group denied the truce saying they are not concerned by the decision of their former leader.
- Peter Gadet (photo SMC)
Bol Gatkouth Kol, spokesperson of the rebel of South Sudan Liberation Movement/ Army (SSLM/A) said their groups accepted a recent amnesty offered by South Sudan President Salva Kiir during the celebration of Independence Day on July 9.
"We declared an unconditional ceasefire with the government of South Sudan. This is because we have accepted the amnesty offered once again by the president of the Republic of South Sudan," Kol told Sudan Tribune by phone on Wednesday.
"We have discussed and agreed in our leadership council to send a delegation to Juba to discuss with the government of South Sudan so we can reach an amicable reconciliation and agreement," he further stressed.
A source at the presidential palace in Juba disclosed to Sudan Tribune that the ceasefire declaration comes as a direct result of secret negotiations held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi over weekend.
The spokesperson of the South Sudan army (SPLA) Colonel Phillip Aguer Panyang welcomed the move but said they were not aware of the details of the deals reached between the government and Peter Gadet.
"I just learned from the media that the rebels have reached an agreement with government of South Sudan. I was not aware. All what I know that the government had an initiative for peace and reconciliation," he told Sudan Tribune. Colonel Panyang further emphasised that the SPLA has no problem with any initiative involving the government.
"As army, we do not have any problem. We are the implementers. We execute what the government wants us to do to protect lives and maintaining stability of the country," he said.
The renegade General defected from the SPLA in March 2011 and disappeared after receiving a permission to visit Nairobi. On 11 April he released the Mayom Declaration where he called for the toppling of the SPLM-led government in Juba and to form an interim cabinet composed of all the political forces in the South Sudan.
Peter Gadet who was the former SPLA commander air defence and deputy commander of division three joined the South Sudan Army after the Juba Declaration signed on 8 January 2006 between Salva Kiir and Paulino Matip the leader of the South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF).
The Juba Declaration was made necessary by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the SPLA and Khartoum, which stated that the SPLA was the only lawful armed group in South Sudan.
The deal also paved the way for South Sudan’s independence on July 9 this year as the agreement allowed for a self-determination referendum, which took place in January.
PETER GADET ARRIVES TO JUBA
Major General Peter Gatdet arrived to Juba Wednesday evening on board a Jetlink plane from Nairobi on Wednesday in an unexpected move that has been welcome by the public.
In a press statement, the SSLA spokesperson Bol Gatkuoth, who accompanied his leader, said they have returned to Juba after closed door dialogue conducted in Nairobi with officials who were delegated by President Kiir in order to end the violence.
He added that his group was also interested in making peace with the government as an assurance to the other rebel groups that "genuine" peace was still possible with the government following the mysterious killing of Gatluak Gai, three days after signing the ceasefire.
The government’s spokesperson, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, while shaking hands with the rebel spokesperson, Gatkuoth, congratulated the rebel leaders for accepting the amnesty announced by the president on Independence Day celebrations on 9 July.
GADET JOINS KIIR BUT NOT THE SSLA
The SSLM/A reacted swiftly in a five page statement released on Wednesday evening saying they are not part of Gadet’s ceasefire. The rebels underlined that Peter Gadet and "his spokesman" only reached this deal with President Salva Kiir.
The SSLM said it is not affected by the defection of the their leader stressing he came alone to join them on 28 March with Kol and now the two have moved to Juba alone. "When they joined the SSLM/A, they didn’t bring a single soldier along with them except their SPLA’s military uniforms".
The insurgents, who designated Maj. Gen. James Gai Yoach as new leader, said the latter sealed a deal in Nairobi with President Kiir and now he is commissioned to fight what they termed "Garang Boys" including Majak Agok, Pagan Amum, James Hoth Mai, Nhial Deng Nhial, Kuol Manyang Juuk and Rebecca Nyandeng Mabior.
The new South Sudanese state is facing some six rebel groups who emerged after April 2010 election in the Sudan. They generally accuse Juba government of nepotism and corruption and demand the formation of an all-party government to prepare a new constitution.
Last week, a rebel leader from Unity state, Gatluak Gai, was killed after signing a peace deal with Juba. His family accuses the South Sudan army of orchestrating the murders but leading members of his group said they killed him because he was not committed to the peace deal.