Juba, March 13, 2016 (SSNA) — Leader of a rebel splinter faction which broke away from South Sudan’s armed opposition last year arrived in Juba on Sunday after launching behind the scene negotiations with the government.
Rebels led by Former Vice president and rebel chief Dr. Riek Machar seem to downplay the significance of the news, saying General Gathoth is irrelevant and that his decision to join the government is simply part of the General normal strategy to get what he wants.
At a news conference in Juba, the group which is being headed by General Gathoth Gatkuoth, a former high-ranking military officer with the SPLA-IO, says his faction which he claims wants peace has been systematically ignored in the peace deal process.
Ateny Wek Ateny, who is the press secretary for Salva kiir, on his part was quick to remind the people on the government-run South Sudan Television (SSTV) that Gathoth’s group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Juba last December and that it is president kiir’s committed to return the violence-ravaged young nation to “normalcy.”
Ateny was also quick to say that the neglecting of Gathoth’s faction in the peace talks was not a good way to silence the guns in South Sudan.
Gathoth further asserts that he return to Juba for peace, unity, reconciliation, and forgiveness. He also praises kiir for negotiating with his group, claiming that the return of his faction to Juba makes the peace inclusive.
Gathoth formed Federal Democratic Party (FDP) and its army wing, the South Sudan Armed Forces (SSAF) after he was dismissed along with Peter Gatdet Yak by rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar.
It is not clear what Gathoth, who felt out with the rebel leadership in 2015, will contribute in the implementation of the power-sharing deal.
However, the armed opposition has in the pass accused Gathoth of having a history of pursuing a self-serving interest, saying the disgruntled General is “an impatient opportunist” with too much Nuer blood on his hands.
Gathoth was accused last year by Jikany Nuer Youth of killing at least 500 Jikany Nuer Youth in 1997.
Rebel sources have also told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) that General Gathoth was a part of a 2015 phony scheme orchestrated by Gabriel Changson Lew Chang in an attempt to remove Machar from the rebel leadership.