SPLA-IO Chief of Staff, 1st Lieutenant General Simon Gatwech Dual, has in an exclusive with Radio Tamazuj seen by NCMP said that his boss, First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, is a prisoner in Juba and cannot even visit his troops and areas under his control. He also claims the implementation of the peace deal is wanting, behind schedule, and fragile.
Gen. Gatwech Dual has in the past month written twice to the regional body IGAD to allow Dr. Riek Machar to visit SPLA-IO troops in their bases to brief them on the progress of the peace deal.
In the interview seen by NCMP, Gen. Gatwech Dual explained that a couple of weeks ago he wrote requesting that the Chairman, Dr. Riek Machar be allowed to visit and brief him and his forces about R-ARCSS, He explained that Riek went to implement the agreements which were signed in Addis Ababa and Khartoum in 2018.
Riek Machar left for Juba without success. The General explained that their forces have been put in training centers for 13-14 months without being passed out, and they have no food supplies. So the general requested that he be released so that he can come to visit these places of ours but the government there in Juba does not want.
We want Machar to come and give us, his forces, a briefing on whether this is genuine peace or not. Is Dr. Riek Machar in jail or not in jail? The general asked in the interview. He further said authoritatively that Dr. Riek Machar is still in prison because he cannot go and visit his forces, his people, and areas under his control and the government has not yet been fully established. Gen. Gatwech Dual opened up that officials have not been appointed and the army and police have not been passed out.
The general further mentioned that up till now no reply has been received. He explained that he has even wrote another request because there is a problem. He explained that on the 21st of September 2020, our forces were attacked in Moroto training camp, and on the 28th Forua training center was also attacked. On the 29th another training center was attacked. Then on the 4th of this month, a recce squad of ours was attacked. Yesterday at 5 pm our second headquarters base in Jekou was shelled using artillery pieces. Is this peace? The general asked.
He further explained that there is no response up till now to both requests. “This now means I have to defend myself because Dr. Riek Machar is in jail.” The general broached. The general also mentioned in the interview that he will engage in self-defense forthwith. This means that if we are attacked again like it happened yesterday evening, it means we will fight. Gen. Gatwech Dual added.
On the 21st, 28th, 29th of September, and the 4th of this month we have been continuously attacked and nothing has been done. Months after months the salient points in the peace agreement are not being implemented. Dr. Machar went to implement the peace agreement in Juba 9 months ago and there is still no success in implementation. There is nothing so what can I do apart from self-defense.
Some people have been compromised with little money to scuttle the agreement. Our forces are here without food and medicine and have not been passed out. These issues can negatively affect and fail this peace agreement and this is what the government in Juba desires. He said in the interview.
This is politics. Even Dr. Riek Machar stays in one place and cannot move about in Juba and is worried about his security. He does not even have his bodyguard and is guarded by Salva Kiir’s guards. How can the person you fought with guard you? The General raised an important issue.
The general confirmed that firearms are available and he further mentioned that Salva Kiir has weapons but does not want to arm these forces because he wants them to desert. Salva Kiir said with his mouth that there are no weapons while he is at the same time bought weapons. He recently procured weapons.
General Gatwech Dual mentioned that Kiir even recently bought more than 200 vehicles. And these are vehicles of war, Toyota Landcruiser pick-up trucks. According to the General, what we have is not genuine peace.
He said in the interview that Salva said with his mouth that Riek Machar has no place to pass this time. Dr. Riek momentarily is a prisoner. The general confidently mentioned that Riek is in Juba doing nothing.
In the interview, the general mentioned that if president Kiir is saying there are no arms this means our forces have to go back to their respective SPLA-IO bases where they came from. There is no problem! He said.
He also said he is still in communication with his boss and Dr. Riek Machar only replies all the issues witnessed by the troop will be resolved.
He concluded by telling all the people of South Sudan, those in the SPLM-IO and those in the government in Juba, that the revitalized peace agreement should be genuinely implemented by everybody across the divide so that the people of South Sudan are happy.
The government in Juba has not implemented the peace agreement fully.