Rebel Gen. Malong recommits to Rome peace talks

By William Madouk Garang     

The Chairman of South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUFA), Paul Malong Awan has assured the government and peace guarantors of his commitment to ceasefire agreement, his close ally revealed.

SSUF/A military Spokesperson, Col. Philip Deng Kuol said they have no any intention of waging war against Kiir’ regime as proclaimed by the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr. Barnaba Mariel Benjamin.

“…[we have] learned the wild propaganda labeled against oppositions umbrella by Marial Benjamin in statement of their withdrawal from Rome talks dated 21st of November claiming NSSSOG are using the Rome peace initiative to avail good time ahead of organizing themselves to launch a fortified operations against government,” partly read the statement extended to No.1 Citizen Newspaper.

“We are urging the peace guarantors and the general public to treat those accusations as unfounded and baseless allegations. Moreover, SSUF/A along with others in NSSSOG umbrella, have no any intention to wage a war against Juba regime as asserted,” it added.

Kuol stated that the ‘sugar-coated’ allegations were meant to portray ‘negative’ image of opposition groups before the international community to blackmail the Rome peace talks, affirming that they are truthful to ceasefire.

“However, we reiterate our commitment to Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed in 2017 in Addis Ababa and the Rome Resolution” it continued.

Gen. Malong’s mouthpiece added that this was not the first time for President Salva Kiir to pull out of the talks and that proves Kiir’s administration is not ready for the restoration of a genuine peace to war-torn country.

He was reacting to a letter written by the Minister of Presidential Affairs and chair of government delegation to Rome, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin; who said government suspended peace talks with holdout groups in Italy because rebels are not serious but rather buying time to prepare for war.

“This letter informs the Community of Saint ’Egidio that the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity has suspended its participation in the Rome Peace talks till further notice. This decision was not arrived at lightly,” Kiir’s office said in a letter addressed to the mediation.

“While we have been preparing to engage in serious dialogue with Non-Signatory South Sudan Opposition Group to bring lasting peace to our country, it has come to our attention that this Group is using these talks to buy time as they prepare for war,” it noted.

Marial noted that government saw Rome initiative as a facilitative avenue for peaceful resolution of the conflict, and not as another repertoire in tactical consideration in pursuit of military objectives over peaceful means.

“Since this new development that used the Rome Initiative as a cover in preparation for war is diametrically opposed to our view on the same, the Government took the decision to suspend the talks with non-Signatories until further notice to prevent the mockery of this noble process” said Marial.

“Let me be clear, the Government is firm on its unequivocal commitment to Rome Process, and it is within this guarantee that I am inviting you to come to Juba, subject to your availability to further discuss in person the concerns mentioned above” he said.

The Presidential affairs’ minister further stated that government views Rome Initiative as a strong commitment to engage in honest talks with the goal of reducing harm to the people and fostering the environment that will lead to the achievement of inclusive peace.

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