Unity state students in Egypt ‘shocked” by surprise demise of General Gatdet

Chairperson of Unity state students’ association in Egypt, Gattiek Gatkuoth Wichar (speaking) (File: Courtesy of Unity state students in Egypt)

April 17th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – Unity state students in Egypt on Tuesday issued a statement expressing shock over the surprise death of rebel commander and opposition leader Gen. Peter Gatdet Yaka.

Relatives and close aides to Gen. Gatdet confirmed to the Nyamilepedia on Monday night that the strong rebel commander died of heart attack at a private hospital in the Sudanese capital Khartoum following a short battle against high-blood pressure.

In the statement that was also extended to the Nyamilepedia, a day following Gatdet’s death, the leader of Unity state students in the Northern African country, Gattiek Gatkuoth Wichar, said they have been shocked by the surprise demise of the opposition leader.

“On behalf of Unity state students in various Egyptian universities and higher institutes, I express my profound heartfelt sorrow and shocked by the untimely demise of Gen. Peter Gatdet Yaka,” Gattiek said in the statement.

He described Gatdet as an exceptional military commander known for his bravery and his firm stance in his quest for the achievement of a democratic country in which inequality is fully eradicated.

“Gen. Peter Gatdet Yaka was an exceptional [military] general known for his extra-ordinary bravery and patriotism. He stood firm to ensure that inequality is diminished for all citizens to be equal before the law.” he said.

“As we mourn, we protrude our sincere and heartfelt condolence to his family, friends, the Nuer community and South Sudanese at large general. This statesman will be missed in South Sudan,” he added.

South Sudan’s FVP designate, Dr. Riek Machar, President Salva Kiir and Gen. Peter Gatdet Yaka signing a then preliminary peace deal in Khartoum on August 5 2018 (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

Gen. Gatdet was one of the SPLA fighters who switched side several times. He was a member of the South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF), led by Gen. Matip Nhial Nyah until he rejoined the SPLA after the Juba Declaration of 8 January 2006, but said that he was marginalized and that the army was dominated by tribal nepotism.

In April 2011 Gadet defected again and emerged as leader of the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA), a new militia demanding a more broadly-based government. 

In August the same year, Gatdet’s movement declared a ceasefire with the government. Gadet integrated his forces into the army and became the 8th Division Commander.

In 2013, Gen. Gatdet mutinied against South Sudan’s army following a mass killing of Nuer civilians in Juba by a government militia and security forces.

Following the formation of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), Gatdet fought under Dr. Riek Machar who then became the leader of the newly established movement.

In July 2014, the European Union imposed sanctions on Gadet accusing him of leading an attack of the town of Bentiu, in which several unarmed civilians – mostly from Darfur – were allegedly killed.

It was not clear what the Darfuri civilians were doing in the town although it has been vacated five months early by the natives following the recapture of the town by government forces from rebel forces in January 2014. 

He however defected in 2015 after rejecting a peace agreement that maintained President Kiir in power. He later on formed his own movement and named it South Sudan United Movement and Army (SSUM/A).

In September 2018, as a part of an opposition umbrella known as South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), Gen. Gatdet signed a peace agreement in Addis Ababa with the government of President Salva Kiir along with other opposition groups.

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