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Ex-S. Sudan rebel commander says optimistic on IGAD forum

October 10, 2017 (JUBA) – A former South Sudan rebel commander says he is optimistic that the peace revitalization forum, spearheaded by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will help end the country’s conflict and bring about peace.

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General Peter Gatdet Yak addressing a conference in Pagak, South Sudan, April 20, 2015 (ST photo)

General Peter Gatdet made these remarks on Monday after meeting the revitalization forum team in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

Gatdet, who broke away from the armed opposition faction led by former First Vice President Riek Machar, urged IGAD to consider all options required to restore peace and stability in the war-torn nation.

“The meeting was mainly focused on how to revitalize the collapsed peace in South Sudan in order to help the people of South Sudan, whose lives have been at risks for so long. The people of South Sudan have been at war for so long,” he told Sudan Tribune by phone.

“Therefore, the re-engagement of all political parties, both in oppositions and in government in the process of revitalization and restoring peace is a wise decision made by IGAD in order to end the war and in South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation”, he added.

In 2015, Gatdet abandoned the Machar-led rebel faction and formed South Sudan United Movement /Armed Forces (SSUM/AF). He is currently based in Khartoum and commands a few soldiers.

Gatdet says he will actively participate in the IGAD-led peace initiative.

“Peace is a priority and only option a human being cannot denounce. We need peace in the Republic of South Sudan as a mechanism of helping people from the current suffering” he stressed.

In June, a summit of IGAD heads of state and government decided to convene a meeting of the signatories of the South Sudan peace agreement to discuss ways to revitalize the peace implementation.

During the June summit, however, it was agreed that all groups be included in the discussion aimed at restoring a permanent ceasefire.

Last week, IGAD unveiled the timetable for the revitalization forum to start consultations with South Sudanese leaders and the nation’s citizens. The process, it said, begins on 13 October until the 17.

The South Sudanese government earlier warned that the revitalization forum by IGAD, the regional bloc which mediated the 2015 peace accord, should not be another platform for negotiations of the peace accord between the two factions to the conflict.

Over a million people have fled South Sudan since conflict erupted in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir sacked Machar from the vice-presidency. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in South Sudan’s worst ever violence since it seceded from Sudan in July 2011.