National, News

Peace talks: Kiir approves ground setting with ‘hold-outs’

By Bida Elly David


President Salva Kiir has given the government negotiation committee the green light to engage with South Sudan Opposition Group (SSOG) and start the talks ‘soon.’

The team met with President Kiir on Friday where he gave his blessing.

The Head of the government Negotiation Committee, Albino Mathom Ayuel, stated after the meeting that they were currently engaged in pre-negotiation talks with the hold-out groups in Kenya.

“We are still doing pre-mediation which is currently going on between us in the republic of Kenya,” he said.

He assured that after the pre-negotiation stage, the peace talks with the hold-out groups would begin.

However, the delegation head did not specify which specific hold-out group they had started engaging with.

The committee expressed their commitment to achieving the objective of bringing lasting peace to the country.

Ayuel also emphasized that the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity was dedicated to implementing the September 2018 peace deal to move the country forward.

While the government is ready for the Nairobi peace talks, it remains uncertain whether some opposition groups will show interest in the agreement.

In February, NAS issued a statement expressing their lack of interest in the talks, claiming they were not consulted and had not received official communication regarding the relocation of the Rome peace talks.

Similarly, the National Democratic Movement-PF rejected the relocation of the talks, suggesting that the Rome peace talks should continue. However, Paul Malong and Pagan Amum accepted President Kiir’s call to hold talks in Nairobi.

The SSOG consists of various groups, including the National Salvation Front (NAS), led by Gen. Thomas Crillillo; Real SPLM, led by former Secretary General Pagan Amum; South Sudan United Front Army (SSUF/A), led by Paul Malong; and National Patriotic Movement-Patriotic Front (NPM-PF), led by Emmanuel Ajawin.

After Kiir sent a letter to Kenyan President William Ruto, requesting mediation for peace talks with opposition groups, Kenya accepted.

Last month, Kenyan Envoy Charles Keter presented a letter to President Kiir containing a framework for resolving the differences between Juba and the holdout groups.

However, some leaders of the holdout militants rejected Ruto’s call for talks in Nairobi and insisted on continuing the abandoned St. Egidio’s Rome talks.

Civil society activists and political analysts had criticized the South Sudanese government for inviting Kenya to mediate talks with the holdout groups.

They argued that the Rome peace talks, which were church-oriented, would have been more genuine.

Concerns were raised about the potential participation of the holdout groups, given Kenya’s proximity as a political neighbour to South Sudan.

The response from the holdout groups regarding President Ruto’s mediation offer remains divided.




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