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Opinion: Did Kit-Gwang Group sign honourable peace or did they surrender?

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By Gwado J. Ador

Khartoum, Sudan, 24 Jan. 2022 – First, it started as a rumour, then later it was confirmed that Kit-Gwang Group which was formally under SPLM-IO was secretly meeting government envoy from Juba to facilitate their orderly defection or rather to say ‘surrender’ to the government’s side!

As expected, things went viral and Kit-Gwang Group was being attacked for breaking away from the SPLM-IO.

They formed a parallel group under the Leadership of Gen. Gatwich Dual to challenge Dr Riek Machar’s IO authority on the ground. A situation that angered Dr Machar and his supporters; they launched punitive expeditions against Kit-Gwang Group of which both sides entered several skirmishes.

Meanwhile, a series of clandestine meetings were taking place between the two sides, Kit-Gwang Group on one side and SPLM-IG on the other side were seen busy around the clock wrapping up the agreement that would make the Group ditch their former allies and end up joining the government fold under the President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Whether the secret meetings between the Kit-Gwang group and the SPLM-IG which was mediated by Khartoum meet the standard of serious negotiations or not is beyond the scope of this article. But, many questions deserve honest answers here:

Firstly, will Agwelek see it through, and up to the end that Piny Collo is restored after this agreement? Should Collo be worried about the way how this agreement was concluded?

Secondly, has Agwelek negotiated the issue of IDP’s, compensation or reparation for the destroyed homes of the civilians and their assets in Malakal and what about peace and justice or equal distribution of wealth and power?

Lastly, have they discussed the threats of Apadang militias and their lethal killing machines which still looming over Collo innocent people in Malakal?

But, did the Kit-Gwang group manage to twist the hands of President Kiir to revoke his popular decree, which gave ‘Dinka Apadang’ the right to occupy Collo Land?

Or will the issue of Piny Collo receive special attention within the corridors of SPLM-IG as hoped by some SPLM-IG Collo circles who were optimistic to support this agreement wholeheartedly?

In negotiations techniques, it’s always possible to win battles and lose a campaign or the reverse is true. In this scenario, Agwelek has for now lost the campaign and won the battles for Piny Collo!

However, President Kiir’s side has become skilful in playing off the opposition groups against one another using the soft power of money. His security advisor Tut Kyew Gatluak is always on the site; a very brute and shrewd character who embarks on naked reasoning that would always appeal to human basic needs. He is popular in his lavish style using an open budget spree for that purpose.

The buying of people to join a particular political camp is not a new phenomenon in politics across the world, but it’s current for the people of South Sudan.

Rebellion constitutes a long-life fortune to some individuals. Quite some rebel groups have been awarded huge sums of monies that could see them through their entire lives in the luxury of comforts. Thus, many people strive to rebel so that when they return within a short span of the period they rip up benefits that await them.

President Kiir and his group have always been open for that instance, some among the adverse group might even suggest rebellion and come back shortly as heroes, and huge sums of hard currency and all sorts of comforts will be at their doorsteps!

This is happening when South Sudan still lacks basic infrastructure, the low ranked civil servants, army and police forces, workers and teachers across South Sudan have not received salaries for several months in arrears.

The state, however, has failed to provide health care facilities, lack proper schools and clean water. Officials have no monthly dues for more than six months. But, surprisingly enough there was money available to buy off people so that they don’t oppose the leadership or their perception to rule for so many years to come.

Members of Agwelek could be lucky to join in, but some among them would be wary about the objectives for which they took up arms.

In this context, I believe the last negotiations were not honest. To be fair, it was carried out in haste. Kit-Gwang side settled for the least demands and that was joining SPLM-IG without securing whether ‘Piny Collo’ would be restored within a specified period or not.

Will this particular agreement be honoured by the hostile Apadang snipers who are lying in wait for victims in Malakal town? Has the SPLM-IG side promised to commit and stop any violation or aggression against innocent civilians in Malakal this time around?

Will Agwelek be deployed to do that job?

Let’s assume that this agreement has all the essential details to bring lasting peace in Malakal, would it be honoured and respected by all the parties concerned.

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