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MAGENIS - 10 Aug 2022

General Simon Gatwech fires his deputy Olony

General Simon Gatwech, who leads the rebel group SPLM/A-IO Kit-Gwang, has fired his deputy General Jonhson Olony, a spokesman for the group said on Wednesday.

The move could cause a rift between the two opposition commanders who formed a breakaway group of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) last year.

In August last, General Simon Gatwech and General Johnson Olony formed the SPLM/A-IO Kit-Gwang faction and declared First Vice President Riek Machar had been ousted as head of the SPLM/A-IO.

"The chairman and the commander-in-chief of the SPLM/A-IO Kit-Gwang faction has removed General Olony from the position of deputy commander and appointed Henry Owdar as the new deputy on 9 August," Alfred Gach Thot, a spokesman of the SPLM/A-IO Kit-Gwang faction, told Radio Tamazuj on Wednesday.

Until his appointment as the deputy chairperson of the SPLM/A-IO faction, Henry Odwar, a former deputy to Riek Machar, was head of the faction’s political bureau.

 "General Olony will be reassigned and given another position within the SPLM/A-IO Kit-Gwang faction. I think General Olony was consulted by the chairman," Alfred said.

When asked if the two commanders are still working together as commanders of a united group, Alfred said, "We are one SPLM/A-IO Kit-Gwang, I think Olony has been consulted before his removal.”

“I want to tell the public that the appointment of Henry Odwar is a normal administrative procedure, and it has nothing to do with the recent infighting in the Tonga area," he explained.

For his part, General Johnson Olony said his leader had not consulted him about his removal from the position of deputy commander. "I was not consulted, but I was informed by some people that I had been replaced with Odwar. So I have no problem if I am removed from the position," Olony said.

When asked if he still receives orders from General Gatwech as his leader, General Olony said: "I have not yet declared my position; we are still together until now. General Gatwech wants to continue fighting, and I want peace. This is the point of disagreement between him and me," Olony said.

"When we formed the SPLM/A-IO Kit-Gwang faction last year, we agreed that it should be a military movement only, but General Gatwech insists that there is a need to include politicians in the group. I am for peace, and if Gatwech does not want me, I will sit with Thomas Mabor and the other officers to make a decision," he added.

In January this year, General Simon Gatwech and Commander Johnson Olony signed two separate agreements with President Salva Kiir’s group. However, the two agreements that provide for the integration of the Kit-Gwang forces into the army remain unimplemented.

General Johnson Olony is also the commander of the Upper Nile-based Agwelek forces, which primarily focus on defending Shilluk land.