Ambassador Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth’s Statement for Joining SPLM-in Opposition

Press Statement
June 30, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Addis Ababa, June 30, 2014 (SSNA) — South Sudan became Independent on the 9th of July 2011. Millions of the people of the Republic of South Sudan and well-wishers celebrated the birth of the new nation. I was blessed to have witnessed both the hoisting of the flag in South Sudan (July 9th 2011) and in the United Nations Head Quarters in New York (July 14th 2011). This well earned sacrosanct Independence of the South Sudan was through millions of heroes and heroines who sacrificed their lives for a just cause in 1955 to 1972, the war of the Anya Nya One, 1975 to 1983, the war of Anya Nya Two and 1983 to 2005, the war of SPLM/A.

December 15th 2013 will always be in the history of the new nation as the darkest spot. The President of the Republic, Salva Kiir Mayardit dragged the new nation into a war by recruiting, arming, and directing the Presidential Unit (Tiger Battalion), mainly from his home area, to disarm the Nuer component of the unit.  I am innocent. I have never, or any of my colleagues in anyway ever plotted a coup to overthrow Salva Kiir government. The war broke out and Kiir directed his part of the unit to slaughter the Nuer in the unit and around Juba. This move triggered the current war imposed on all of us starting with his former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny, whom Kiir wanted to assassinate. Former VP Dr. Riek Machar Teny ran for his life and all the G11 were detained using a false accusation such as an attempted coup d’etat. This false alleged coup triggered the massacre in Juba, and subsequently many innocent lives lost in Bor, Malakal, Bentiu and many places. My dear people the Nuer, Dinka, Shilluk, and many other innocent lives from other communities were lost because of this senseless war. My condolences to the families who lost their loved ones.

To set the record straight, we the December 6th 2013 Political Leaders (G11), namely Pagan Amum Okiech, Deng Alor Kuol, John Luk Jok, Kosti Manibe Ngai, Gen. Oyay Deng Ajak, Gen. Dr. Majak D’Agoot, Gen. Madut Biar Yel, Gen. Gier Chang Aluong, Governor Chol Tong Mayay, Dr. Cirino Hiteng Ofuho, and Amb. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth together with Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Madame Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, Taban Deng Gai, Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba and Alfred Lado Gore – who had a press conference in Juba were and are united on the issues of “critical reforms” in the SPLM and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan using peaceful means. It was President Kiir who introduced violence into this   in -house SPLM Political struggle. The war, which was imposed on all of us by Kiir, separated the group on the fateful night of December 15th 2013. The G11 (former detainees) were detained, and Dr. Riek Machar Teny and others escaped and ran for their dear lives. Because of the imposed war by Kiir, Dr. Riek and his group waged a war of resistance for survival. All of the mentioned leaders above the  “reformists group” will continue to work together to end this imposed war peacefully.

I was detained with my Comrades on December 16th 2013 until April 24th 2014 and we were taken to court, charged with treason and many other charges, all carrying a death sentence. I have spent 130 days in prison. This ordeal of solitary confinement led me not to be bitter toward anybody but to think through and increased my resolve to work for a new beginning in South Sudan.

The new beginning is a new South Sudan where I would want to see “ the war to stop, and have a South Sudan free from ethnic politics and embrace all the critical reforms including institutionalization of a federal system  ”. This South Sudan will only come if “a new leadership emerges, peace with justice and accountability is realized, genuine reconciliation is launched, development to affected areas is implemented and a federal system (where resources are devolved to states and local levels instead of concentrating the resources to the Central government) is achieved”. This is going to realize the dream of our Late Leader and Hero Dr. John Garang De Mabior, which stated “taking towns to villages”.

Now I have decided to join the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army under the Leadership of Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Chairman of the SPLM and Commander In Chief of the SPLA, and work for peace and reaffirming my commitment to a peaceful resolution to the conflict as it was stated by the agreement of May 9th 2014 by the two Principals which says “no military solution to the current conflict in South Sudan”. The war has devastated and divided our communities. The healing and reconciliation is needed within our communities. Other countries such as Rwanda went through genocide like South Sudan and they reconciled and I am sure we will reconcile as communities.

I am sure the best way for South Sudan to heal and come together we must reach out. Changing the nature of the State and political dialogue requires major change in attitude and changes in political leadership. One has to relate to the region and to the rest of the world. We are not living on an island – as such we have to reach out to our neighbors and our friends in other parts of the world – from America to Norway to China and India.

Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Rachel Nyahok Gatkuoth, kids (Duop, Nyamal and Nyewech), my entire family, best friends and well wishers, regional leaders, international community leaders and the entire leadership of the SPLM/A for standing with me and working for my release during my ordeal in Prison where I was basically on “death row”.

Thank you and God bless South Sudan, Africa and the world.

Ambassador Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, Former Ambassador to USA/UN, Former Detainees (the last 4) and Member of the SPLM National Liberation Council.

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