Gen. Gatkuoth Biel Nyang in a hospital bed at a health facility in Juba. (Courtesy photo)

Q&A| ‘We were not fighting for RSF in Sudan’-Deported former SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang Faction official Gen. Gatkuoth

General Gatkuoth Biel Nyang who was once a senior officer in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition-Kitgwang Faction led by Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, has denied the reports that he was deported from Sudan late last year for supporting the Rapid Support Forces in their war against the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the ongoing conflict in Sudan.

General Gatkuoth Biel Nyang who was once a senior officer in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition-Kitgwang Faction led by Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, has denied the reports that he was deported from Sudan late last year for supporting the Rapid Support Forces in their war against the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the ongoing conflict in Sudan.

He says he was deported from Sudan on 14 December 2023 after some members of his faction differed over peace processes in South Sudan, not because he was involved with the RSF.

Radio Tamazuj caught up with him in a hospital where he was admitted in Juba and sounded him out.

Below are edited excerpts:

Question: Can you please introduce yourself to our listeners and readers?

Answer: My name is General Gatkuoth Biel Nyang and I am a South Sudanese citizen from the Lou Nuer of Akobo area in Jonglei State.

Q:  How did you end up in Juba from Sudan?

A: I was in Sudan as part of the SPLM-IO Kitgwang faction after we split from Dr. Riek Machar and we signed our peace agreement with the government of South Sudan. We thank President Salva Kiir because he is a man of peace and that is why he sent to us his Security Adviser Tut Kew and other generals who met us in Khartoum and they asked us why we refused to join the peace process.

We told them that we had internal differences but the delegation informed us to come back to the country. So, we signed the peace agreement in January 2021 and the peace was going well. We are awaiting its implementation because if something is signed, it is not immediately implemented, but it requires some time for implementation.

Q: Were you part of the advance team of Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual to Juba?

A: No. I did not come to Juba with the advance team because I was coordinating many issues in Khartoum. The advance team that arrived in Juba was comprised of some dignitaries from our members.

Q: So, how did you end up in Juba?

A: We arrived in South Sudan via Renk in Upper Nile State on 14 December after the Government of Sudan deported me. I still do not know why I was deported and I will investigate the reason later.

Q: Who do you think was behind your deportation?

A: It was the Military Intelligence of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) 18th Infantry Division based in Kosti in Sudan’s White Nile State.  I have already told you that I was coordinating peace programs in Kosti and Rebek until I was surprised by the deportation order. 

Q: To whom did the Sudanese authorities hand you over in South Sudan?

A: They handed me to the Military Intelligence of the South Sudan People’s Defenses Forces (SSPDF) in Joda and we were accorded a warm welcome and the South Sudan Military Intelligence told us to feel free and at home.

Q: How many of you have been deported from Sudan?

A: We were 18 in number but we were deported separately. In my case, I was deported from Rebek and in the process, I met some people who were also deported from the Jebelein area.  Some children were deported while they were harvesting crops at the agricultural schemes outside the Jabaleen area. Those young boys were only searching for manual work for their survival but they were mistaken for involvement in other issues.

Q: How many of you with high-ranking officers from Simon Gatwech’s SPLM-IO Kitgwang Faction were deported to South Sudan on 14 December 2023?

 A: I was the only one deported from Rebek and when reached Jebelein, I met David Manyang who is an officer of the SPLM-IO. He told me that he was also deported by the Sudanese Military Intelligence. The other deported officers were preparing some peace programs scheduled to happen in Juba.

Q: General Biel, are you currently under arrest or free in Juba?

A:  I am undergoing treatment. When you are deported, you are screened for diseases and people should know that South Sudan is a country with health procedures and if you are found safe, then you can be allowed to enjoy peace. So I am now under treatment at a hospital because I have high blood pressure.

Q: Are their security personnel guarding you at the hospital?

A: Nobody is here with me at all because I was bailed out by my people and I can show up at the security offices at any time if they want me for investigations or something like that.

Q: So you are not under arrest?

A: No one has arrested me. The security service knows my whereabouts and they even told me that my life and health matter a lot to them.

Q:  What is your current position now? Do you still belong to Simon Gatwech?

A: This is a very interesting question. I want to thank South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit because he gave a general amnesty for rebel movements who are fighting against the government. Recently, he issued another amnesty and asked all people to join the peace process because the people of South Sudan are going to elections.

Based on his (Kiir) initiative of hosting all holdout groups in Nairobi, Kenya, this makes me happy and I did not see anything wrong since I came to South Sudan in terms of development. I am extending my request to those who are still outside the country to come back and join the peace process.

My message is that if people sign a peace agreement, swift implementation must be done with immediate effect without wasting time.

Q: Gen. Biel, now that you are under the protection of the Government of South Sudan, can you tell us your real political affiliation?

A:  I am currently under medication and I am following the peace implementation activities. I do not have any other direction apart from supporting President Kiir because he was the one calling all people who have problems to come back for peace.

Q: There are reports about the involvement of some South Sudanese in the ongoing war in Sudan between RSF and SAF in Sudan. What do you know about this?

A: I do not have any information about what is going on in Sudan because I was busy coordinating our peace activities. Although I witnessed many things happening in Sudan, I do not have information on what is happening on the ground.  

Q: Gen. Simon Gatwech’s SPLM/A Kitgwang Faction has been cited as fighting on the side of SAF while you were accused of supporting the RSF. Are you denying this?

A: I want to tell you one thing, my coming to South Sudan was implemented by the Sudanese Military Intelligence and I see people do not want to accept what I have been saying.  I was busy making peace efforts in the Rebek area in Sudan’s White Nile State. I was telling our members to come back to South Sudan, but people whose names I do not like to mention misunderstood me and took the matter to the SAF Military Intelligence.  Since the war broke out in Sudan in April 2023, Simon Gatwich and I have been in Rebek and I am surprised that the Sudanese authorities deported me and left Simon Gatwech Dual.   

Q: What created differences between you and Gen. Gatwech?

A: My difference with them is that I was telling them we should back to Juba and participate in the implementation of the peace but they refused and that is why they handed me over to the Sudanese Military Intelligence.  Concerning claims that I am supporting the Rapid Support Forces, I do not know any information about them nor do I have any relations with them at all.