Kiir reignites peace talks with holdout groups

By William Madouk Garang

President Salva Kiir Mayardit has ordered the resumption of the Saint ‘Egidio Rome peace talks between his government and non-signatories South Sudan Opposition Groups (NSSSOG).  

This order comes barely three months after the government in November last year suspended its participation in the Rome peace talks, citing that the holdout groups have been buying time to prepare for war.

Addressing the media, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr. Barnaba Marial who is also the head of high level committee for Papal visit, declared that President Kiir has lifted the restraint on Rome peace talks.

“President has lifted the restriction on Rome peace talk with holdout group of Thomas Cirilo, Pagan Amum and Paul Malong” Marial said.

Marial revealed this during President Kiir’s visit to recently tarmacked road, accompanied by Vice Presidents and government dignitaries to oversee the preparation for the ecumenical peace pilgrimage by Pope Francis. 

It’s all begun when the government’s minister of presidential Affairs in letter dated Nov 21, addressed to the Secretary general of Saint ’Egidio in Rome, Italy, saying the non-signatory are using the ceasefire to prepare for more aggression.

Marial said Juba has considered the Rome initiative as a facilitative for peaceful resolution of the conflict in South Sudan and not as another repertoire in tactical consideration for the pursuit of military objectives for peaceful means.

The government’s decision comes barely a month after political and military leaders of the groups formerly known as South-South Opposition Movement Alliance renamed themselves the Non-signatories.

However, the National Salvation Front and South Sudan United Front bitterly refuted accusations from Juba that they have been buying time to prepare for war.

In response to the accusations, Suba Samuel NAS Spokesperson, denies the group is preparing to wage any war against the government in Juba, as quoted by a local.

“Nobody is planning or preparing for war but maybe it’s Juba, and we know very well that dry season is starting, maybe it’s Juba now who wanted to use this statement to prepare for war” he said.

For his part Garang Malual, who is the spokesperson of South Sudan United Front – under Malong Awan also said the group has no plans for war.

“We don’t have a war plan; we have nothing to do but we are still ready for talks anytime if the government decided to come back in the table. But the talk was not for SUFF alone and we are so many groups to be involved in that talks” he said.

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