General Gathoth Gatkuoth, one of the senior rebel commanders who defected from armed opposition faction, SPLM-IO, under the leadership of former vice president, Riek Machar, and formed their own faction, has returned to South Sudanese national capital, Juba, ending several months of behind the scene negotiations with the government.
It was not immediately clear under what terms General Gatkuoth, second in command of the defectors, and several other rebel commanders, including self-appointed chairman of ethnic Nuer council of elders, an equivalent of the Jieng (Dinka) council of elders, returned to the country from Kenya.
The group last year split from Machar’s faction with the vision to continue with the fight to either remove president Kiir from power or reach an agreement which would exclude participation of president Kiir and armed opposition leader, Machar, in transitional government of national unity.
Other rebel commanders who accompanied General Gatkuoth included James Malith Gatluak, Chuol Gakah Yier, Gabriel Gatwec Puoc, Mario Dhuor and Gabriel Yoal Dok, chairman of Nuer Council of elders.
Other lower ranking officers and officials were also part of his delegation accompanied by the director general for internal security bureau, Akol Koor Kuc, who has been one of the representatives of the government team under presidential advisor for security affairs, Tut Gatluak.
The government team comprising exclusively security officials, has been in an on and off behind closed door discussions with the group for more than 6 months since 2015.
Presidential advisor for security affairs, Tut Gatluak, welcomed their return and affirmed commitment of the government to ending the conflict through dialogue.
On his part, Gatkuoth said his return to Juba with high ranking commanders from his side was indication of their commitment to ending war and work for peace, unity and reconciliation of the people and the country.
It is not clear whether Peter Gatdet would join Gatkuoth or would continue to remain as one of the holdout groups with the view of pursuing the vision for which they broke away from the faction being led by Machar.