Rebels Amum, Cirilo and Malong back to Rome peace table

By William Madouk

Rome Peace Talks kicked off in Italy among the government and non-signatories to the revitalized peace agreement on Tuesday, with high prospect of achieving positive results from the dialogue.

Government delegation and holdout groups – Real SPLM led by Pagan Amum, NAS under Thomas Cirilo and SSUF/A allied to Paul Malong have started the discussions after they landed in Rome.

Mr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the government chief negotiator, said the Rome peace talk resumed as the commitment from the government for comprehensive peace.

“Today in the city of Rome, the Rome peace initiative started – it opens today in the morning,” said Marial who is also the Minister in the Office of the President.

“The commitment of the President, government and people of South Sudan cannot be over emphasis, and that we are ready for peace in order to accommodate our brothers and siters in the opposition,” he added.

Minister Marial stated that the agenda will be presented by mediator team of Sant’Egidio to parties – from where the government and non-signatories stop when talks were suspended. 

Garang Malual Yaak, the spokesperson of the South Sudan United Front/Army, also confirmed to No.1 Citizen Newspaper that the dialogue has started between them and the government.

“Yes, the talk has commenced today [Tuesday] and the discussion is ongoing now,” Yaak confirmed.

Mr. Yaak stated that he is optimistic that this time around the discussions might yield fruits, citing the government’s willingness to listen and cooperate.

“This time, I think there will be breakthrough unlike previous talks because the government seems to be willing to cooperate with us,” he noted.

He decried numerous sufferings that citizens are going through and assured them that they are committed to bring lasting peace.

“As SSUF/A movement, we are aware of citizen’s sufferings, starvation and conflicts at every corner. We are aware of all these, and we would like to assure you that we will bring stability in our country,”

The secretary-General of the community of Sant’Egidio, Paolo Impagliazzo was also quoted by some media houses saying that the talk has resumed in Rome.

“Of course, you know that the government did not meet Gen. Thomas Cirillo for the last 26 months, so it is an achievement to restart this political dialogue,” he said.” On the other side, the opposition has again come together, and this is already something.”

According to mediators, the two delegations will also discuss the forward two-year extension of transition period in talks that will last for three days.

“The Rome talks will last for three days, so we are starting today and will conclude on 24th March,” he said.

In November 2022, the government suspended the peace talks with the Non-Signatories South Sudanese Opposition Group (NSSSOG) after accusing the opposition of lacking commitment to peace negotiations and preparing for war.

later, President Salva Kiir Mayardit renewed his commitment to the peace process with the opposition after Pope Francis’s visit to the capital Juba last month.

Negotiations between both sides began in 2019 but have failed to end violence in some parts of the country, despite a ceasefire signed in January 2020.

The Non-Signatories South Sudanese Opposition Group (NSSSOG) brings together some of the opposition parties that had declined to be part of the revitalized peace agreement that was signed in September 2018.

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