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South Sudan’s Olony rejects switching sides to Kiir’s party

February 18, 2021 (JUBA) - A South Sudanese rebel commander allied to the armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) has rejected attempts to persuade him to join the army of President Salva Kiir, citing a lack of trust.

Rebel commander Johnson Olony speaks to the press upon arrival at Juba international airport on 13 June 2013 (ST)

The Chilluk general who until recently was seen as a risk endangering the fragile transition process in South Sudan said he was approached by Tut Kew Gatluak the Presidential Adviser on Security and Akol Koor Kuc, the Director-General of South Sudan’s Internal Security Bureau (ISB).

"They came to me, showered me with praising words and I listened to them. Finally, they said they want me to join them, to be a government supporter and be integrated into the government and be assigned as one of the military leaders," said Olony.

"They said I will be assigned the command of one of the sectors. They talked of sector 1. I said sorry and we broke up. Our talks could not proceed, and they left. That what they came for”, he further said.

The armed opposition figure said he rejected the offer because it was the same government that rejected his appointment as the Governor of the Upper Nile State

He accused the armed opposition party leadership of withdrawing his nomination after several months of pushing for his appointment.

“What kind of these people? Look, yesterday they rejected my nomination and today they came and asked I should go and work with them. What kind of game are they playing? That is more than the game of the kids,” said Olony.

The officer urged regional leaders, the peace guarantors and the international community to put pressure on President Salva Kiir’s government to ensure the 2018 peace agreement is implemented.

"Until today, as I speak to you and which you know, forces in the cantonment have not been passed out so that reunification of the forces is done. The state governments have not been fully government. the transitional national legislative assembly has not been reconstituted and others. And how many months are left to go for elections?” stressed Olony.

"I don’t know whether Salva Kiir and his group are sincere with themselves," he said.

A presidential source separately told the Sudan Tribune that both Akol and Tut were recently in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum but declined to confirm if the two security officials held talks with Olony.

"I cannot comment on this issue. This is a security matter and I do not speak for them”, the presidential aide said Thursday.

President Kiir signed a power-sharing agreement with SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar and several other groups in September 2018.

The parties to the peace agreement formed the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) in February last year.