The Kit-Gwang based SPLM/IO leadership commanded by Gen. Simon Gatwech together with its Supreme Military Council following a myriad of events that led to a nail-biting decision has today appointed Hon. Henry Odwar as head of Political Bureau.
Hon. Henry Odwar was the former minister of Mining who also served as Machar’s deputy Odwar’s decision to walk away will likely weaken Machar’s influence in the Equatoria region, his former deputy’s base. Henry Odwar declared support for the Kitgwang faction and is very supportive in serving Gen Gatwech in his new role.
A statement issued today by the Supreme Military Council confirmed the appointment saying “ The SPLA/IO Military Council after the Kit-Gwang declaration, I interim Chairman and Commander in chief General Simon Gatwech Dual, based on the powers vested in me, by the Supreme Military Council: appoint Hon Henry Odwar as head of the Council of Political Bureau (CPB). All former Political Bureau and the National Liberation Council (NLC) members to report themselves to the new SPLM/IO Head of the Council of Political Bureau until political; reorganization within the movement is completed.”
The former deputy to Machar joined the unity government last year as a leading member of Machar’s SPLM-IO party,
General Simon Gatwech Dual defected from Machar’s group and is currently commanding a strong and powerful force that has in recent weeks been subsequently attacked by the said Machar forces as an act of revenge despite being unsuccessful.
The sudden attack on general Gatwech’s forces left at least 32 people dead when violence broke out earlier this month just days after Machar’s foes in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) said they had ousted him as party leader and head of its armed forces. Several waves of peace negotiating bodies condemned the attack highly and warned against the systemic implementation of the Revitalized peace deal signed by both leaders in 2018.
Odwar accused Machar of sidelining other members in a bid to “single-handedly” direct the party’s affairs and said the new faction hoped “to steer the movement and chart a more democratic and people’s centred path.
In a speculated move, the bickering leaves Machar in an increasingly precarious position as he attempts to work alongside his former foe President Salva Kiir to implement a peace process that is already behind schedule and offering little success delivered at a tortoise speed.
The 2018 agreement ended South Sudan’s five-year civil war between forces loyal to Machar and Kiir that cost almost 400,000 lives, as the two men hammered out a power-sharing deal that is still hanging in a balance.
Additionally, the latest fighting within Machar’s movement diminishes his negotiating power and in doing so, threatens the peace process which was almost believed to be an array of hope for South Sudan’s peace in enabling a lasting and astonishing development for the country.
Despite the ongoing defections, analysts warn that the splitting of forces itself (the SPLM/A-IO) will only weaken the political and military strength of the forces. In so doing, a weak partner will not be good in implementing the peace agreement hence leading to more confusion, unrest and a devastating negative impact of the fighting.
Following Odwar’s exit from the leadership of Machar, the First Vice President however has continuously raised concerns and challenges causing a threat to the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement which includes the rejection of his nominee to the deputy minister of the interior by President Salva Kiir Mayardit which according to Machar believes is a violation of the power-sharing agreement.
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