Home | News    Friday 7 August 2015

South Sudan says split within rebel leadership may delay peace agreement


August 6, 2015 (JUBA) - Leading members of the South Sudan’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and government officials on Thursday claimed that an imminent division within the leadership of the rebel group led by former vice president, Riek Machar, could delay signing of a peace agreement to end the more the twenty months old conflict, despite resumption of the talks.

General Peter Gatdet Yak addressing a conference in Pagak, South Sudan, April 20, 2015 (ST photo)

Presidential advisor on decentralization and intergovernmental linkage, Tor Deng Mawien, told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that the government was getting reports of imminent division in the leadership of the rebels, warning that such development may undermine regional and the international efforts to bring peace to the country.

“The government has been saying all along that Riek Machar was not in control. This was why the rebels have never respected the terms of cessation [of] hostilities agreement, despite numerous assurances of commitment by Riek himself and Taban Deng Gai, because those on the ground have their own ambitions and they see themselves as separate group from them,” said the presidential advisor.

Mawien said the government had received reports that former deputy chief of general staff for operations in the rebel camp, Major General Peter Gatdet with other senior commanders have defected from the faction allied to Machar, warning that unless Gatdet and his faction joined the government, the prospect of the two warring parties signing a peace deal could be undermined by such developments.

He however said Juba would welcome the defecting rebel commanders back to president Kiir’s government if they decided to return to Juba and abandon the war.

“The government is ready to work with all those willing to put down arms and return to the country to pursue peace and reconciliations,” he added.

“Those who do not want peace are the ones we are asking the international community [about] to work with the government to let them accept dialogue, so that this conflict is brought to an end immediately. We are not working with them, and they are not allowed to work with us if they do not want peace and stability to return to this country.”

Daniel Awet Akot, former deputy speaker of the national legislative assembly and also a senior official of the SPLM and close political ally of president Kiir said he was not aware of the defection but it could delay the peace process if it was confirmed that the armed opposition was divided.

“I have no information about this and I do not think it is a good news because it means that the peace will take long to be concluded if the rebels are divided. If some of them accept to sign the peace and others remain outside, it means suffering will continue, which is what the SPLM leadership and the government does not want. The leadership is advocating for peaceful settlement to this conflict so that lasting peace and stability returns,” Akot stressed.

The minister in the office of the president, Awan Guol Riak, said in a separate interview that he had no official information about the alleged defection of the group to the side of the government but admitted that there have been reports in the media about the split within the leadership of the armed opposition.

Awan however hinted that president Kiir had given general amnesty to all those who have taken up arms against the government to return and ready to work with any group willing to stop fighting and return to the country to pursue peace and end the suffering caused by what he called “senseless war.”

Meanwhile Gordon Buay, one of the government’s representatives to its mission to the United States of America told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that the government was working on how it could bring peace to the country by negotiating with those who have defected from the faction under Machar.

“We will bring on board those of Peter Gatdet. I understand he is in Khartoum at the moment. We don’t know what he is doing there but if he wants peace, we will talk to him and his group. Our main objective as the government now is to end this war. The president is serious about peace,” said Buay.


Other sources within the government told Sudan Tribune that contacts with defecting senior rebel commanders were in their final stage, claiming that they would be a split soon within the opposition faction led by former vice president, Riek Machar.

Among the senior commanders who were willing to abandon the war and return to Juba, he said, included Major General Peter Gatdet Yakah, Major General Gabriel Tanginya, Major General Gathoth Gatkuoth, Brigadier General Chuol Gakah and Brigadier General Gatwech Puoch Mar, Brigadier General Makuach Teny, among other officers.

The sources further revealed that Gabriel Changson Chang, the rebel’s chairman of national committee for finance and resource mobilization is the ring political leader that engineered the split and would return to Juba with the commanders.

“The plan is two-fold: one, the commanders with Gabriel Changson may soon declare a split and form their own organization with which they can sign a separate agreement with the government as a return card to Juba; or two, they may decide to return first to Juba and then work out an agreement internally,” he further explained.

“We expect the group to make the declaration very soon in Nairobi,” he added.

The government official also explained that Changson and some other commanders including Gathoth Gatkuoth and Chuol Gaka have already arrived in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to declare their position, adding that Gatwech Puoch was supposed to travel to Khartoum, Sudan, to bring along with him Peter Gatdet and Gabriel Tanginya to join the group in Nairobi for the declaration.

Another source within the government also confirmed the government’s plan to split the rebel movement and the return to Juba of the senior commanders. He however raised doubt whether or not Peter Gatdet would accept to return to Juba, citing fears and rumours relayed to the rebel commander that president Kiir wanted only his "head” and not his body.

Two senior commanders, former deputy chief of general staff for operations, Peter Gatdet and former deputy chief of general staff for logistics, Gathoth Gatkuoth, were relieved from their duties last month by orders issued by the opposition leader, Riek Machar.

Last week, Gatkuoth spoke to Sudan Tribune for the first time since his relief and warned of split from Machar’s faction unless reforms within the military were effective.


A spokesperson for the leadership of the rebel faction however said he was not aware of the alleged plan by the senior commanders to split and return to president Kiir’s government, saying they were still part and parcel of the movement.

“No, I have no information about this. What I know is that the commanders and Uncle Gabriel Changson are senior officials of the movement,” James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune in reaction to the allegations.

“The leadership will reassign to other positions the two commanders, Major General Peter Gatdet and Major General Gathoth Gatkuoth who were relieved from their previous positions in the military leadership,” he said.


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  • 7 August 2015 02:21, by dinkdong

    Lame excuses! As if they were going to sign peace agreement.

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    • 7 August 2015 05:12, by Akook

      It shows how desperate the government had become looking for excuses not to sign peace! Oh my God this government has clearly become enemy of peace.
      Thanks my Lakes state government’s officials Daniel Awet and Awan Guol for making it straight these are unofficial rumors the government is trying to fish in its dirty or tactics to delay peace

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      • 7 August 2015 05:19, by Akook

        If any Nuer generals ever try to rebel within rebellion because positions that everyone of them should be Queer Midiit of his own, and given the bad shape their citizens had been subjected by this government! Then I will have every reason to believe that Nuers are no humans but real ANIMALS.

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        • 7 August 2015 06:47, by Mi diit

          A peace agreement will not be signed because the government has already rejected IGAD proposal, but not because of rumoured split in rebel camp.

          Those rebel commanders and Gabriel Changson Chang are risking more sacrifice to join their dead Nuer brothers and sisters killed in Juba should they betray the Nuer.

          Kiir wants to lure them in and kill them all!

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          • 7 August 2015 16:41, by Hardlinner

            Mi diit your song of nuer mass killing as already been disregarded by AU inquiry. the statement released by former Nigerian president as already shown that no genocide as taken place in juba. riek was just lying to nuer in order to get their support on his tireless quest for top position.

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    • 7 August 2015 10:22, by Ayuen deng

      Major General Peter Gatdet Yakah, Major General Gabriel Tanginya, Major General Gathoth Gatkuoth, Brigadier General Chuol Gakah and Brigadier General Gatwech Puoch Mar, Brigadier General Makuach Teny, among other officers are coming back to Juba.That’s why it was good to think twice before taking our people to the bush to suffer and die

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  • 7 August 2015 06:24, by Ayuiu Makuac Lam

    good imagination in order to bring peace

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  • 7 August 2015 07:59, by Thondet Manyang

    Riek has a plan of reserving some rebels outside agreement such as he goes back to bush again same thing he did for unstopable rebelion in Nuer land. The good news is they are aging and will die with their mess. Other remarkable Nuers will grow and lead South Sudan faithful and peacefully. Riek can’t be our leader due to his impatience and unfaithfull to S. Sudanese. No one tribe country/rebellion

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    • 7 August 2015 09:22, by Ayuiu Makuac Lam

      Riek Machar, is like a mother of a street boy where her children ran out of hunger.
      Machar, is treating his generals army in agreedy way he did in the central government.

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      • 7 August 2015 10:56, by Malakal county Simon

        Desperate rumours by desperate unwanted government...... For your information, those two generals, will be assign soon other portfolios..... No returning to tribal government whatever......

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        • 7 August 2015 11:04, by Malakal county Simon

          Desperate rumours by desperate unwanted government...... Those two generals, will be assign soon to other portfolios...... No returning to the tribal government whatsoever, and fight for true democratic of South Sudan must continue......

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  • 7 August 2015 14:14, by BM-21

    Dr. Riak Machar have no control of Nuer who fighting in his side ,
    and that why you seen Obama is giving pressur , he know that, Dr. Riak Machar Teny is running out of bullets.
    why he don,t want to give time to south sudanese alone to get the way forward of peaceful dialogue.

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  • 7 August 2015 14:16, by William Atak Garang.

    Those of Peter Gadet and rest of generals within the forces of renegade Risk Machar are really destroying S.Sudan. the split within their movement is going to be another disaster in South. They should know war has nothing rather than destruction and poverty .you have absolutely finish your people where will you get those you may need rule ?

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  • 7 August 2015 14:18, by BM-21

    Those of Hon. Gabriel Changson Chang , Gen Peter Gadet Yak,Gen Gatthouth Gatkuoth ,Gen Gabriel Tangnyang and many others commanders you welcome back home. you were influence by Riak
    and you were nationalist.

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  • 7 August 2015 16:11, by Redeemer

    Gatdet and his group is calling for reform

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    • 7 August 2015 17:00, by Pure Nationalist

      These generals were confused by an agent from Juba informs of white man that was used to lure George Athor Deng that led him met his fate miserable. If it wasn’t their plan, how would they know that?

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      • 7 August 2015 17:13, by Pure Nationalist

        To those generals, please, Kiir government is not ready for peace as a matter of fact, he is against IGAD plus peace plan. If you want to defect because you don’t need peace with Kiir, just get prepared because you are going to be allowed to fight Kiir openly after refusing to sign IGAD PLUS peace

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