By James Gatdet Dak.
June 25, 2021 — The appointment of General Simon Gatwech Dual as a Presidential Advisor on Peace has dominated public discussions on media outlets and on social media in recent days, with some for it and some against it.
I respect General Simon Gatwech (Chuany Ciejaak) so much!
He has spent most of his life in the struggle for the people of South Sudan to be free.
And General Gatwech is a man who loves peace, and can understand situations.
The first time I knew him personally was in the year 2006, when I accompanied the current First Vice President, H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon to Yuai town of Uror county in Jonglei state.
This was after deadly clashes in the area between Lou-Nuer fighters and SPLA forces which resulted to the demise of late Wutnyang Gatkek in 2006.
General Simon Gatwech by then did not join the then Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS). He was based in Yuai with his forces. But when Dr. Riek contacted him from Juba and asked him for a meeting in Yuai in order to defuse the situation, although he was initially hesitant, he finally agreed to welcome Dr. Riek into Yuai for the requested meeting.
When Dr. Riek arrived Yuai on a plane, we were surprised that Gen. Simon Gatwech organized for him a great reception. We spent seven days in Yuai meeting him and Lou-Nuer chiefs of Cie-Dak (Dak-ka-Diok) and General Simon Gatwech accepted peace.
He is a man of peace!
His recent appointment to play the role of peace advisory at the presidency, to me, is to honor him to join the peace honorables in the heart of decision-making body. This will give him a direct audience with H. E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, etc.
He can be advising on all issues that would be promoting peace, including the need to train, equip, unify and deploy unified forces.
It is not the first time in history that a Chief of an army or a renowned army General is given a different role, including advisory role, by his Commander-in-Chief.
We have General Kuol Manyang as a Presidential Advisor at the Presidency in Juba. We have General Bol Kong as a state government advisor in Jonglei state. We have General James Hoth Mai as a minister, etc.
Recently we have General JJ OKOT, the former Chief of Defense Forces, who was General Simon Gatwech’s counterpart, and was also given another ambassadorial role despite that he did not complete the training and unification of forces.
I know, others also know, and certainly General Simon Gatwech also knows that if he takes up another role it would never and never mean that the SPLA-IO forces would be left like orphans without a new and capable Chief of General Staff. Another General to whom he would hand over the torch would still effectively follow up with the training and unification as well as deployment of the same forces he now leads.
Well, we all passed through difficulties, whether in 2013 or in 2016, including Dr. Riek Machar, the Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA-IO. It takes courage, resilience and trust building at a proximity to make this peace work and achieve long lasting stability for our people in our beloved nation.
An advisory role on peace at the Presidency would give him an opportunity to be routinely putting his peace concerns across at the high table on behalf of the people and forces.
It is an honour, given his age, and given the fact that after unification of forces, there shall be only one army Chief.
It is not about eating in Juba. It is about massaging peace in order to relax it to health and success!
Long distance pessimism will never heal this nation.
General Simon knows that he has very good young Generals who can take the torch while he leaves behind a good legacy!
Just a humble advice!
The author, James Gatdet Dak, is the spokesperson of the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny.
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